Family activity day
14 October 2023
10am – 4pm
Albert Halls, Stirling
The power of teamwork in exploring human and animal minds
Discover the power of teamwork in research!
Join us for interactive puzzles and games that reveal how collaboration
enables us to tackle big questions about human and animal minds.
We had a great time at the Botanic Gardens for Glasgow Science Festival. Thank you to everyone who stopped to say hello and engage with some challenging question about human and animal minds. And thank you to all the children who took the time to draw us some lovely pictures.
We thank the Royal Institute of Philosophy Stirling Branch for financial support.
Friday 13 October 2023
6pm – 8pm
Campus Central (CC.3.04)
University of Stirling
In early modern thought a philosophical orthodoxy, emerging out of Aristotelian and Christian ideas, held that animals were incapable of thinking like humans; that they lacked the crucial immaterial essence, the rational soul, that gave ‘mankind’ (it was definitely men who were the assumed focus) its special status. The beasts, so the argument went, responded only instinctively to sensory prompts, whereas humans could go beyond those prompts into the realm of the abstract, and could imagine, reason, remember. At the same time as this set of assumptions about animal (lack of) reason was so dominant in printed discussions, however, there was an alternative perspective. When we turn from the library to the field – from theory to practice – something very different can be found. James VI and I, for example, was convinced his hunting hounds could perform abstract calculations; and the great horse trainer William Cavendish knew his horses were capable of acts of memory, and that, in fact, training was premised on that capacity. And then there were the cows. This talk will trace these different perspectives, and show how far theoretical discussion missed out ideas of animal capacity that were so visible, and vital, to those who worked and lived closely with them. It will make the case that the early modern past was not only the site of beast-machines and human exceptionalism, but was also home to conceptions and experiences of animal thinking and skill that was crucial to successful cross-species collaboration
Dr Giacomo Melis will make a short presentation on the relation between human and animal intelligence. Come join us and take part in an informal philosophical discussion.
Are animals rational in a way similar to humans are, or do they have a different kind of intelligence? Many philosophers think that rationality is uniquely human, and yet cognitive ethology suggests that the minds of humans and animals are pretty similar. After a short introduction on the arguments pro and against animal rationality, we’ll wonder what rationality might be and which subjects may possess it.
Theme by the University of Stirling