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WIREs Cogn Sci
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Cognitive ethology

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Abstract Cognitive Ethology, the field initiated by Donald R Griffin, was defined by him as the study of the mental experiences of animals as they behave in their natural environment in the course of their normal lives. It encompasses both the problems defined by Chalmers as the ‘hard’ problem of consciousness, phenomenological experience, and the ‘easy’ problems, the phenomena that appear to be explicable (someday) in terms of computational or neural mechanisms. Sources for evidence of consciousness and other mental experiences that Griffin suggested and are updated here include (1) possible neural correlates of consciousness, (2) versatility in meeting novel challenges, and (3) animal communication which he saw as a potential ‘window’ into their mental experiences. Also included is a very brief discussion of pertinent philosophical and conceptual issues; cross‐species neural substrates underlying selected cognitive abilities; memory capacities especially as related to remembering the past and planning for the future; problem solving, tool use and strategic behavioral sequences such as those needed in anti‐predator behaviors. The capacity for mirror self‐recognition is examined as a means to investigate higher levels of consciousness. The evolutionary basis for morality is discussed. Throughout are noted the admonitions of von Uexküll to the scientist to attempt to understand the Umwelt of each animal. The evolutionary and ecological impacts and constraints on animal capacity and behavior are examined as possible. WIREs Cogn Sci 2013, 4:493–509. doi: 10.1002/wcs.1239 This article is categorized under: Cognitive Biology > Evolutionary Roots of Cognition Psychology > Comparative Psychology

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Psychology > Comparative Psychology
Cognitive Biology > Evolutionary Roots of Cognition

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