Institute for Animals in Philosophy and Science – IAPS
The Institute for Animals in Philosophy and Science – IAPS is the company of psychologist and philosopher dr. Esteban Rivas. For several years, Rivas has been giving lectures and courses about animals in philosophy and science under the old name of his company, Esteban Rivas Productions. Unsatisfied with this name, he set up the Institute for Animals in Philosophy and Science in January 2013, because this new name covers the activities that he organizes in a much better way. He had also been looking for a good name for his company in order to work together with other institutes, organizations and individuals.
Besides the lectures and courses that will be given by dr. Rivas himself, the institute will also organize lectures and other events at which other scientists and philosophers will speak.
In Dutch the institute’s name is translated as Instituut voor Dieren in Filosofie en Wetenschap – IDFW.
The IAPS is an independent organization, not connected to or affiliated with any other organization.
Dr. Esteban Rivas (1966) studied psychology, specializing in theoretical psychology at the University of Utrecht and focusing on the subjects of animal cognition and animal consciousness. He also studied philosophy at the University of Amsterdam, where he specialized in (animal) ethics. As part of his psychology studies, he worked several months with the signing chimpanzees at the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute in the USA. Intrigued by the sign communication with chimpanzees, he then started a Ph.D program about the great apes in language research, working from the philosophy of science section of the University of Nijmegen. During several trips to the States he analyzed all the archives of the signing ape projects, as well as visited with bonobo Kanzi and other great apes that communicate by using lexigrams. He also made a large systematic analysis of the way the chimpanzees use signs when they communicate with longtime human companions. The research questions of his work were in what way the sign use of the apes could be compared to human language, and whether the apes also communicated about their emotions and consciousness by using the learned symbols. In 2003 he obtained his Ph.D with his dissertation GIMME GIMME GIMME – The recent signing behaviour of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) in interactions with longtime human companions. He has published about his research with the signing chimpanzees in the Journal of Comparative Psychology (2005).
In the past few years Rivas has given lectures, seminars, and courses about language research with nonhuman animals, the cognition of nonhuman animals (including the many recent studies on dog cognition), consciousness and emotions in nonhuman animals, and animal ethics. He also gives courses for the various institutes of Higher Education for Older People (HOVO). He was a speaker at the recent Minding Animals II Conference in Utrecht.
Esteban Rivas is a member of Minding Animals Nederland and organizes as a Minding Animals Partner Event together with dolphin expert Justin Gregg of the Dolphin Communication Project this year a 3-part seminar series, the Apes and Dolphins Seminar Series, in which the communication and intelligence of great apes and dolphins is discussed, as well as our ethics towards these animals.
Rivas has also been editor (together with others) of the book Animal Consciousness and Animal Ethics. Perspectives from the Netherlands (Van Gorcum, 1997), part of the Animals in Philosophy and Science series. He wrote the chapter Psychological complexity and animal ethics: Choosing between hierarchy and equality.