David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Journal of the History of Biology 38 (3):461 - 493 (2005)
The playback experiment -- the playing back of recorded animal sounds to the animals in order to observe their responses -- has twice become central to celebrated researches on non-human primates. First, in the years around 1890, Richard Garner, an amateur scientist and evolutionary enthusiast, used the new wax cylinder phonograph to record and reproduce monkey utterances with the aim of translating them. Second, in the years around 1980, the ethologists Peter Marler, Robert Seyfarth, and Dorothy Cheney used tape recorders in a broadly similar way to test whether the different predator calls of one monkey species, vervet monkeys, warn about different kinds of predator. This paper explores the circumstances leading to the ca. 1890 invention and the ca. 1980 reinvention of the primate playback experiment. In both instances, I show, the experiment served as a riposte to those arguing, on scientific grounds, that an unbridgeable gap divides human language from animal communication. I also consider how far progress in technology explains the timing of invention and reinvention. I conclude with some reflections on sifting contingent from inevitable aspects of the history of the primate playback experiment, and of scientific achievements more generally.
|Keywords||animal communication ethology evolution of language Garner, Richard historical contingency Marler, Peter philology psychology playback experiments technological determinism|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
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
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Timo Maran (2010). Why Was Thomas A. Sebeok Not a Cognitive Ethologist? From “Animal Mind” to “Semiotic Self”. Biosemiotics 3 (3):315-329.
Similar books and articles
Kristin Andrews (2008). Interpreting the Baboon. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 12 (1):5-6.
Emmanuel Gilissen (2004). Aspects of Human Language: Where Motherese? Behavioral and Brain Sciences 27 (4):514-514.
Robert M. Seyfarth & Dorothy L. Cheney (2008). Primate Social Knowledge and the Origins of Language. Mind and Society 7 (1):129-142.
Andrew McAninch, Grant Goodrich & Colin Allen (2009). Animal Communication and Neo-Expressivism. In Robert W. Lurz (ed.), The Philosophy of Animal Minds. Cambridge University Press. 128--144.
Amanda Seed & Michael Tomasello (2010). Primate Cognition. Topics in Cognitive Science 2 (3):407-419.
W. J. (1996). The Evidential Significance of Thought Experiment in Science. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 27 (2):233-250.
Klaus Hentschel (1997). The Interplay of Instrumentation, Experiment, and Theory: Patterns Emerging From Case Studies on Solar Redshift, 1890-1960. Philosophy of Science 64 (4):64.
Emmanuel Gilissen (2005). Imitation Systems, Monkey Vocalization, and the Human Language. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28 (2):133-134.
Juan A. Garc (2007). Mental Models in Propositional Reasoning and Working Memory's Central Executive. Thinking and Reasoning 13 (4):370 – 393.
David Atkinson (2003). Experiments and Thought Experiments in Natural Science. Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science 232:209-226.
Robert M. Seyfarth (2005). Continuities in Vocal Communication Argue Against a Gestural Origin of Language. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28 (2):144-145.
Nancy Howell (2003). The Importance of Being Chimpanzee. Theology and Science 1 (2):179-191.
John Aldrich & Anna Staszewska (2007). The Experiment in Macroeconometrics. Journal of Economic Methodology 14 (2):143-166.
Allan Franklin (2002). Fisica y Experimentacion. Theoria 17 (2):221-242.
Alex Robertson (1992). Schools and Universities in the Training of Teachers: The Demonstration School Experiment 1890 to 1926. British Journal of Educational Studies 40 (4):361 - 378.
Added to index2011-05-29
Total downloads8 ( #187,589 of 1,413,433 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #154,636 of 1,413,433 )
How can I increase my downloads?