Date of Award

Fall 12-6-2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Philosophy

First Advisor

Neil Van Leeuwen

Second Advisor

George Graham

Third Advisor

Eddy Nahmias

Abstract

This thesis explores the implications of non-human primates’ propensity to hyperbolically discount the future. Hyperbolic discounting occurs when small, near-term rewards are preferred over larger rewards that are realized at a future point in time, but these preferences do not hold when the choice between long term and short term rewards is made at a time far removed from when the choice produces rewards-- i.e., at a time when the payoff of the choice is distant. I discuss two mutually exclusive models that attempt to explain why non-human primates hyperbolically discount: the cognitivist and the behaviorist model. I then present evidence that supports the cognitivist model and undermines the behaviorist model. I then argue that a “War of Interests” (WOI) occurs within the non-human primate mind. I explain this WOI model, discuss its philosophical implications, and then conclude with a general theory of the non-human primate mind.

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