The evolution of pretence: From intentional availability to intentional non-existence

Mind and Language 23 (5):586-606 (2008)
Abstract:  I address the issue of how pretence emerged in evolution by reviewing the (mostly negative) evidence about pretend behaviour in non-human primates, and proposing a model of the type of information processing abilities that humans had to evolve in order to be able to pretend. Non-human primates do not typically pretend: there are just a few examples of potential pretend actions mostly produced by apes. The best, but still rare, examples are produced by so-called 'enculturated' apes (reared by humans) and among them specially those that have been systematically trained to use symbols (so-called 'linguistic' apes). A hypothesis that would explain the lack of pretence in apes is that they lack the mentalistic ability of theory of mind. However, in the last years apes have been demonstrated to possess relatively sophisticated social cognitive skills, some of them ontogenetically appearing in humans alongside with or even after pretend play. As a solution to the paradox, I discuss a model according to which pretence is supported by a mechanism capable of computing intentional relations with non-existing objects or properties (Intentional non-existence), as opposed to mechanisms computing intentional relations with existing, although not necessarily currently perceived, objects (Intentional availability). Apes possess the latter, which allows them to solve a variety of theory of mind tasks, but not the former, which typically prevents them from developing pretence.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/j.1468-0017.2008.00353.x
 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: 23,316
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

View all 10 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Peter Langland‐Hassan (2014). What It Is to Pretend. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 95 (1):397-420.
Eduardo García-Ramírez (2011). A Cognitive Theory of Empty Names. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 2 (4):785-807.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

19 ( #243,106 of 1,932,587 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

3 ( #272,027 of 1,932,587 )

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.