Anthropology, Department of


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Published in Nebraska Anthropologist Vol. 20 (2005). Copyright © Benjamin Grant Purzycki; published by The University of Nebraska-Lincoln AnthroGroup.


The question of whether or not chimpanzees possess the ability to mentally represent others' mental states has been a popular question since Premack and Woodruff (1978) originally asked the question. It is well established that humans have a theory of mind (ToM), but extending this psychological faculty to our evolutionary cousins has created a massive amount of literature and research attempting to resolve this issue. Such a resolution is arguably not possible given the nature of the debate. An Either/Or approach to chimpanzee theory of mind both ignores the essential components of ToM as well as foreclosing on the possibility that there is variability of the informational encapsulation at the modular level between closely related species.

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