How to learn language like a chimpanzee

Philosophical Psychology 4 (1):139-46 (1990)
This paper develops the hypothesis that languages may be learned by means of a kind of cause-effect analysis. This hypothesis is developed through an examination of E. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh's research on the abilities of chimpanzees to learn to use symbols. Savage-Rumbaugh herself tends to conceive of her work as aiming to demonstrate that chimpanzees are able to learn the "referential function" of symbols. Thus the paper begins with a critique of this way of viewing the chimpanzee's achievements. The hypothesis that Savage-Rumbaugh's chimpanzees learn to use symbols by means of cause-effect analysis is then supported through a detailed examination of the tasks they have learned to perform. Next, it is explained how language-learning in humans might be conceptualized along similar lines. The final section attempts to explain how the pertinent cause-effect analysis ought to be conceived. (This paper was published with a reply by Savage-Rumbaugh. See the same issue, pp. 55-76.)
Keywords Ape  Cause  Effect  Language  Reference  Science
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1080/09515089008572988
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 15,974
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Christopher Gauker (1990). Semantics Without Reference. Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 31 (3):437-461.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Max Velmans (1991). Is Human Information Processing Conscious? Behavioral and Brain Sciences 14 (4):651-69.
Ned Block (1991). Evidence Against Epiphenomenalism. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 14 (4):670-672.
Max Velmans (1991). Consciousness From a First-Person Perspective. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 14 (4):702-726.

View all 42 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Howard Sankey (2010). Descartes's Language Test and Ape Language Research. Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 29 (2):111-123.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

31 ( #101,479 of 1,725,866 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

3 ( #210,647 of 1,725,866 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.