Date of Award

Fall 12-6-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Neil Van Leeuwen

Second Advisor

George Graham

Third Advisor

Eddy Nahmias


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.