Can animal behavior be explained without attributing to them reason or belief? In the first part of this book, Sorabji investigates this question. Since animal behavior is explained by appeal to notions like perception, memory, intention, learning, and emotion, the "no reason or belief" thesis is plausible only if those concepts can be explained without recourse to either reason or belief. Sorabji investigates this with close reference to Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, and many other philosophers of antiquity.
In the second part of the book, Sorabji examines the significance of the animal minds debate. He argues that Aristotle's denial of reason and belief to animals has a long and sad legacy that deeply affects humans' relations to animals in Western Culture. Sorabji concludes that a proper account of human minds would motivate new moral judgments.
Sorabji's mastery of the classical literature is truly impressive, and he forges many interesting connections to Donald Davidson's famous denial of animal thought and to many other contemporary debates in the philosophy of mind.