Is Instinct Rational? Are Animals Intelligent? An Abductive Account


The concept of abduction can be useful to clarify the conflict instinct vs. inference in cognitive science. The resulting idea that abduction is partly explicable as a biological instinctual phenomenon and partly as a more or less “logical” operation related to “plastic” cognitive endowments of all organisms naturally leads to stress that many animals – traditionally considered “mindless” organisms – intelligently make up a series of signs and are engaged in making, manifesting or reacting to a series of signs. An important effect of this semiotic activity is a continuous process of “hypothesis generation” that can be seen at the level of both instinctual behavior, as a kind of “hardwired” cognition, and representation-oriented behavior, where nonlinguistic pseudothoughts drive a plastic model-based cognitive role. Another important character of the abductive model-based cognitive activity above is the externalization of artifacts that play the role of mediators in animal languageless “thinking”.

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