Descartes' two errors: Reason and reflection in the great apes

Josep Call*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

5 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter examines reason and reflection in the great apes. It presents a variety of behavioural evidence that is best explained either by causal reasoning or by metacognition and analyses the between capacities for reasoning and for metacognition. It evaluates the results of a study which suggest that apes do not simply associate a cue with the presence of food, but understand that the food is the cause of the cue, and can reason accordingly. This behaviour can be regarded as evidence of a capacity for protological reasoning that relies on pairs of contraries and conditional dependence based on causal dependence.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRational Animals?
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191689529
ISBN (Print)9780198528272
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2012


  • Apes
  • Causal dependence
  • Causal reasoning
  • Conditional dependence
  • Metacognition
  • Proto-logical reasoning
  • Reason
  • Reflection


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