Do animals pretend?
This is my first foray into Sunday cat blogging. Here goes.
Many philosophers have spent a fair amount of time thinking about pretense -- what exactly it is, and how to apply a theory of pretense to various areas of philosophical interest (e.g. perhaps we are playing a game of pretend when we talk about the natural numbers).
I was just watching my cat play with a fuzzy cat toy. The cat, in some sense, realizes that the fuzzy ball is not a mouse (or whatever). However, when it is playing with the toy, it will temporarily exhibit many of the behaviors that it would exhibit toward a real mouse -- e.g., it hides behind furniture so that the toy won't 'see' it.
All the philosophical discussions of pretense with which I am familiar are restricted to human pretense. But given the kinds of things I see with my cat, and given that pretense occurs fairly early in childhood development (sophisticated multi-person pretend games start around 3 1/2), it seems at least possible that animals engage in pretense too.
And if my cat isn't engaged in a pretense, then what exactly is it doing?