The Dead End of Communication

Sergio Balari and Guillermo Lorenzo

in Computational Phenotypes

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199665464
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191746116 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Biolinguistics

The Dead End of Communication

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Linguistic theory has been traditionally (but uncritically) committed to an approach that sees language as a particular instance of a larger class of systems of communication. Within a biolinguistic perspective, this position translates into the contention that language is a particular “animal communication system,” a natural kind comprising an extremely heterogeneous set of behaviors based on the externalization/exchange of signals between organisms. Putting aside some other previous criticisms concerning this tenet, the book's main objection is that this approach drives the evolutionary study of language to a dead end, because the concept of “animal communication system” does not refer to a true natural kind and thus no substantial evolutionary generalizations can be based on it.

Keywords: communication theory; animal communication; natural kinds; eliminativism; functional analysis; adaptationism

Chapter.  10956 words. 

Subjects: Psycholinguistics

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