Title: Disagreement and Classification in Comparative Cognitive Science
Abstract: Comparative cognitive science often involves asking comparative questions like ‘Do nonhumans have C?’ where C is a cognitive capacity we take humans to have. These questions frequently generate unproductive disagreements, in which one party affirms and the other denies that nonhumans have the capacity on the basis of the same evidence. These disagreements are sometimes diagnosed in terms of competing researcher biases. I argue that these comparative questions can be productively understood as questions about natural kind membership: do nonhuman cognitive capacities fall into the same natural kinds as our own? So understood, I argue that we should expect comparative questions to generate disagreement for at least three reasons independently of any researcher bias: uncertainty about the nature of the natural kind in question, indeterminacy in its extension, and ‘domain mismatch’, in which a natural kind may be characterised differently in different scientific domains. I argue that we can make progress by recognising the plurality of domains comprising comparative cognitive science, in which different answers to ‘Do nonhumans have C?’ may be justified.