Date: Jan 20, 2021 03:00pm – 4:30pm

Speaker: Kristin Andrews – York University

Title: What comparative psychology can learn from developmental psychology: The case for premising consciousness

Location: online


Comparative psychology and developmental psychology both can be traced back to the work of Darwin. While developmental psychology has flourished in the last 200 years, comparative psychology is relatively less developed. In this paper I will use the model of developmental psychology to argue for principles for research in comparative psychology.

I critique familiar principles such as Morgan’s Canon and Anti-anthropomorphism, and defend the Curative Principle: When ignoring consciousness hinders the ability to generate new knowledge of animal mind and behavior, and there is the potential to generate new knowledge by premising consciousness, scientists ought to take the starting premise that the animals they study are conscious. From this principle, I  defend the claim that scientists should presume that the animals they study are conscious.


Kristin Andrews is York Research Chair in Animal Minds and Professor of Philosophy at York University, and she was elected to the College of the Royal Society of Canada in 2015. She works on issues in folk psychology and social understanding, moral psychology, methodology in comparative psychology, and animal ethics. She is currently writing a book on animal morality which explores the range of normative practices and psychologies across human cultures and nonhuman species. Andrews’s current books include book How to Study Animal Minds (Cambridge 2020)—an argument for new methods in comparative psychology, including premising that all animals are conscious until otherwise indicated; The Animal Mind second edition (Routledge 2020) – a survey of how empirical work on animal minds can help to inform debates in the philosophy of mind; Do Apes Read Minds? Toward a New Folk Psychology (MIT 2012) – a defense of her normative and pluralistic theory of folk psychology; The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Animal Minds (co-edited with Jacob Beck, Routledge 2017); and Chimpanzee Rights: The Philosophers Brief (Routledge 2018). Chimpanzee Rights, which was written with a team of 15 philosophers, is an elaboration on an argument for legal personhood status for animals that was presented a US court as an amicus brief in support of a petition filed by the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP). Andrews has studied scientists and orangutans in Borneo, and scientists and dolphins in Hawaii and Honduras. In addition to her academic duties, she serves as on the Board of Directors for The Borneo Orangutan Society Canada, which has the mission to promote conservation of orangutans and their habitat and to educate the public.