The Daily Ant hosts a weekly series, Philosophy Phridays, in which real philosophers share their thoughts at the intersection of ants and philosophy. This is the fifty-ninth contribution in the series, submitted by Dr. Andrew Moon.


Do Ants Doubt?

Do ants doubt? I will argue that they probably don’t.

Some might think that ants don’t have doubts because they don’t have any mental states. They are just mindless robots.

Those people might be right. However, there are some reasons to think that ants do have mental states. Suppose an ant is walking along a path, and you put a Lego in front of it. The ant stops. If I said, “The ant knows that there is something in front of it,” this would seem like a correct thing to say. Or if I said, “The ant thinks that there is something in front of it,” that would also seem correct to say. In contrast, suppose you rolled a marble and it stopped because of the Lego in its path. If I said, “The marble knows/thinks there’s something in front of it,” this would be incorrect to say. The fact that we attribute knowledge and thinking to the ant (but not the marble) is some evidence that we categorize ants (but not marbles) into the group of things with minds.

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An ant undoubtedly in doubt, or not. Photo: Alex Wild

The Daily Ant hosts a weekly series, Philosophy Phridays, in which real philosophers share their thoughts at the intersection of ants and philosophy. This is the fifty-seventh contribution in the series, submitted by our editor-in-chief, Benjamin Blanchard.


Northwestern Prison Education Program

The ant content in this (Saturday!) post is far less than usual for the series, but the natural affinity between social insects and social justice warrants little explanation. Plus, as soon as I heard about program that serves as the topic for this post, I became increasingly antsy to feature it in the Philosophy Phriday series. What is the program you may ask? None other than that stated in the title: The Northwestern Prison Education Program (NPEP).