Scientific Uncertainty and Discovery: Animal Thinking


Course Description

Fundamental aspects of human experience include remembering the past, choosing in the present, and planning for the future. Do non-human animals remember the past, choose in the present, and plan for the future? Are people unique among all other animals in their cognitive processes? What do non-human animals know about the world? How do they come to know this information? What are the similarities and differences between this knowledge in animals and people? This course will explore the field of comparative cognition, the scientific study of cognitive capacities of animals. Topics include: perception, attention, memory, spatial cognition, timing, counting, conceptualization/categorization; tool fabrication and use; problem solving; and social cognition. Case studies will focus on episodic memory, mental time travel, metacognition, and theory of mind. The format of the course is a seminar. You are expected to read and carefully consider the assigned reading materials before each class meeting. Come to class with interesting questions and ideas for discussion. Read the materials prior to the first meeting of the week.