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Journal Article

What is it like to be a chimpanzee?


Tomasello,  Michael       
Department of Developmental and Comparative Psychology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Tomasello, M. (2022). What is it like to be a chimpanzee? Synthese, 200: 102. doi:10.1007/s11229-022-03574-5.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000A-5D75-B
Chimpanzees and humans are close evolutionary relatives who behave in many of the same ways based on a similar type of agentive organization. To what degree do they experience the world in similar ways as well? Using contemporary research in evolutionarily biology and animal cognition, I explicitly compare the kinds of experience the two species of capable of having. I conclude that chimpanzees’ experience of the world, their experiential niche as I call it, is: (i) intentional in basically the same way as humans’; (ii) rational in the sense that it is self-critical and operates with logically structured causal and intentional inferences; but (iii) not normative at all in that it does not operate with “objective” evaluative standards. Scientific data do not answer philosophical questions, but they provide rich raw material for scientists and philosophers alike to reflect on and clarify fundamental psychological concepts.