Brownian thought space

Cognitive science, mostly, but more a sometimes structured random walk about things.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Theory of Intentionality (replaces ToM)

Read this Science report about animal intelligence, and got me thinking about intelligence in general and the whole thing about having a mind. One of the criticisms against many of the studies is that they do not show that animals are capable of false beliefs, and so do not show that they possess a Theory of Mind (ToM). But, (as seen in a previous post), the point about cognition is to ascribe mental states. And so, what if we replaced ToM with ToI? That is, to try and understand how animals behave etc not throught the associationist strategies; but neither insisting on showing false beliefs. Instead, if one can show that animals are capable of treating certain objects/persons/things as having intentionality, they might have specific ways of dealing with them. Put another way: like naive physics deals with some basic knowledge of the physical world, the naive intentionality would be expected to deal with basic knowledge of the mental world. This involves beliefs, desires and the like, whatever they actually might be. So, if it turns out that a certain supposedly mental capacity was not mental after all, the question still remains: does treating it as if it was overlaid over a system of beliefs and desires help to somehow compress the description and draw predictions? If it does, that would be a great short-hand way of representing something about creatures that are more than merely chemical bags. etc.

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