(Copyright © 2000 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
Cognitive ethology started when Darwin argued that animal minds must be similar to human minds since animal bodies are similar to human bodies.
In other words, Darwin believed in mental (cognitive) continuity as much as in bodily continuity.
The field was pioneered by Niko Tinbergen and Konrad Lorenz.
The most controversial theories are about animal consciouness.
MacPhail thinks that there is no consciousness without language, and animals cannot perform our linguistic tasks, ergo animals are not conscious.
On the other hand, Donald Griffin argues that animals are conscious.
Sara Shettleworth takes a middle road: animals are conscious in some sense but
it is impossible to determine what consciousness they possess because consciousness is a subjective phenomenon.
Recent studies on language have shown that syntax may truly be a unique human feature. No matter how "intelligent" the problem solving of other animals can be, it still does not allow them to grasp the concept of syntax (meaning composed from a number of ordered elements).