Conceptual recombination and stimulus-independence in non-human animals



Published 04-12-2022
Laura Danón


Camp (2009) distinguishes two varieties of conceptual recombination. One of them is full-blown or (as I prefer to call it) spontaneous recombination. The other is causal-counterfactual recombination. She suggests that while human animals recombine their concepts in a full-blown way, many non-human animals are capable of conceptual recombinability but only of the causal-counterfactual kind. In this paper, I argue that there is conceptual space to draw further sub-distinctions on how different animals may recombine their concepts. More specifically, I propose to differentiate between a) narrow causal-counterfactual recombination; b) broad causal-counterfactual recombination; c) lean spontaneous recombination; d) robust spontaneous recombination. Afterwards, I focus on how these distinctions relate to several previous philosophical ideas on the representational capacities of non-human animals. I also provide several empirical examples suggesting that some animals display one or another of these four ways of recombining concepts, at least in some contexts.

How to Cite

Danón, L. (2022). Conceptual recombination and stimulus-independence in non-human animals. THEORIA. An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science, 37(3), 309–330.
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Non-human animals, concepts, conceptual recombination, animal minds