Counting-Ish Creatures and Conceptual Content.


While many animals — pigeons, for example — have analogue magnitude states (i.e. cognitive states which can represent properties such as size or amount), it has recently been argued that certain discriminatory tasks provide evidence for the claim that these states are non-conceptual (see Beck 2012). These states are taken to be nonconceptual in that they cannot meet a test for concept possession such as Evans’s Generality Constraint. I argue that while such animals probably do not have numerical concepts, the evidence suggests that they could have numerical-ish concepts. On what I call ‘the diffuse’ account of numerical-ish concepts, animals could have analogue magnitude states which represent amount and these states could meet the Generality Constraint (e.g. 38ish is not less than 40ish, but 38ish is less than 50ish). This account also avoids the problems faced by a ‘centred’ account of numerical-ish concepts (where 37ish is less than 38ish) which cannot meet the Generality Constraint.

Publication Title