Abstract # 13222 Poster # 112:

Scheduled for Thursday, August 9, 2018 06:00 PM-08:00 PM: (Regency Center) Poster Presentation


CAN ANTHROPOMORPHISM BE JUSTIFIED IN PRIMATE MIND-READING DEBATE?: A PHILOSOPHICAL REVIEW

B. Lee
Seoul National University, 1, Gwanak-ro, Gwanak-gu, Seoul 08826, South Korea
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     In this review, I discuss whether anthropomorphism some scientists tend to use in cross-species comparison can be justified epistemologically, especially in the primate mind-reading debate. Concretely, I analyze Elliott Sober's argument that supports the mind-reading hypothesis (MRH), an anthropomorphic hypothesis, and reject it. Although many scientists consider anthropomorphism as an error, Sober advocates that anthropomorphism can be supported by cladistic parsimony that suggests choosing the simplest hypothesis postulating the minimum number of evolutionary changes and cladistic parsimony can be justified by the law of likelihood. However, his argument faces several problems, given that a major issue in the mind-reading debate is how to infer phylogenetic relationships between the mind-reading trait of humans and that of other primate species. Firstly, Reichenbach's theorem that Sober uses for showing that MRH has a higher likelihood than its competing hypothesis, behavior-reading hypothesis (BRH), is difficult to establish if it applies in a problem of phylogenetic inference. Secondly, the parsimonious hypothesis cannot be guaranteed to have a higher likelihood than other ones. It is because we cannot exclude the possibility that additional variations actually occurred, and the likelihood of each phylogenetic tree (hypothesis) is determined only by parsimony. Consequently, it seems hard to justify anthropomorphism of MRH under Sober's argument.