Ali Boyle (PDRA, LCFI/University of Bonn recently wrote a blog post entitled Reading Minds & Reading Maps, published by iCog, a network for postgraduates and early-career researchers working in interdisciplinary cognitive science.
Do nonhuman animals know they’re not alone? Of course they must know there are lots of things in the world around them – rocks, water, trees, other creatures and what have you. But do they know that they inhabit a world populated by minded creatures – that the animals around them see and know things, that they have beliefs, intentions and desires? Can they attribute mental states to other animals, and use those attributions to predict or explain their behaviour? If so, then they’re what philosophers and psychologists call ‘mindreaders’.