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Can Animals Be Persons?$
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Mark Rowlands

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190846039

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190846039.001.0001

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Tracking Belief

Tracking Belief

Chapter:
(p.64) 4 Tracking Belief
Source:
Can Animals Be Persons?
Author(s):

Mark Rowlands

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190846039.003.0004

Problems in attributing beliefs to animals stem from the fact that the contents (of beliefs and desires) used in such attribution are anchored to humans. This chapter spells out a de-anchoring strategy. The result of this is that it can be appropriate to explain the behavior of an animal using contents that only humans can entertain as long as our contents track theirs. That is: (a) the truth of a belief with our content guarantees the truth of their belief, and (b) our belief and theirs share narrow content. This is important not just in the case of animals. There are good reasons for thinking that tracking begins at home. There are no stable belief contents shared by different humans or even attaching to a single human through time. Content must be de-anchored in order to make sense of ourselves as well as other animals.

Keywords:   anchoring, belief, content, tracking, truth-preservation

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