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date: 12 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

One goal of comparative cognitive studies is to achieve a better understanding of the selective pressures and constraints that play a role in cognitive evolution. This chapter focuses on the question of causal reasoning in animals, which has mainly been investigated in tool-using and large-brained species. Our survey reveals that numerous animal species appear to be sensitive to violations of causality and may even be tuned to attend to causally relevant features. This, in turn, may facilitate causal learning. The ability to draw logical conclusions and make causal deductions, however, seems to be restricted to few species and limited to (ecologically) relevant contexts. It seems warranted to reject the traditional associationist view that non-human animals lack any understanding of causality, but convincing evidence for human-like abilities is lacking. For instance, animals do not appear to understand the causal structure of interventions.

Keywords: animals, causal learning, evolution of cognition, tool use

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