We argue that an understanding of the faculty of language requires substantial interdisciplinary cooperation. We suggest how current developments in linguistics can be proﬁtably wedded to work in evolutionary biology, anthropology, psychology, and neuroscience. We submit that a distinction should be made between the faculty of language in the broad sense (FLB)and in the narrow sense (FLN). FLB includes a sensory-motor system, a conceptual-intentional system, and the computational mechanisms for recursion, providing the capacity to generate an inﬁnite range of expressions (...) from a ﬁnite set of elements. We hypothesize that FLN only includes recursion and is the only uniquely human component of the faculty of language. We further argue that FLN may have evolved for reasons other than language, hence comparative studies might look for evidence of such computations outside of the domain of communication (for example, number, navigation, and social relations). (shrink)
Metaphysics and language: Quine, W. V. O. On the individuation of attributes. Körner, S. On some relations between logic and metaphysics. Marcus, R. B. Does the principle of substitutivity rest on a mistake? Van Fraassen, B. C. Platonism's pyrrhic victory. Martin, R. M. On some prepositional relations. Kearns, J. T. Sentences and propositions.--Basic and combinatorial logic: Orgass, R. J. Extended basic logic and ordinal numbers. Curry, H. B. Representation of Markov algorithms by combinators.--Implication and consistency: Anderson, A. R. Fitch (...) on consistency. Belnap, N. D., Jr. Grammatical propaedeutic. Thomason, R. H. Decidability in the logic of conditionals. Myhill, J. Levels of implication.--Deontic, epistemic, and erotetic logic: Bacon, J. Belief as relative knowledge. Wu, K. J. Believing and disbelieving. Kordig, C. R. Relativized deontic modalities. Harrah, D. A system for erotetic sentences. (shrink)
For many years the evolution of language has been seen as a disreputable topic, mired in fanciful “just so stories” about language origins. However, in the last decade a new synthesis of modern linguistics, cognitive neuroscience and neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory has begun to make important contributions to our understanding of the biology and evolution of language. I review some of this recent progress, focusing on the value of the comparative method, which uses data from animal species to draw inferences about (...) language evolution. Discussing speech first, I show how data concerning a wide variety of species, from monkeys to birds, can increase our understanding of the anatomical and neural mechanisms underlying human spoken language, and how bird and whale song provide insights into the ultimate evolutionary function of language. I discuss the “descended larynx” of humans, a peculiar adaptation for speech that has received much attention in the past, which despite earlier claims is not uniquely human. Then I will turn to the neural mechanisms underlying spoken language, pointing out the difficulties animals apparently experience in perceiving hierarchical structure in sounds, and stressing the importance of vocal imitation in the evolution of a spoken language. Turning to ultimate function, I suggest that communication among kin (especially between parents and offspring) played a crucial but neglected role in driving language evolution. Finally, I briefly discuss phylogeny, discussing hypotheses that offer plausible routes to human language from a non-linguistic chimp-like ancestor. I conclude that comparative data from living animals will be key to developing a richer, more interdisciplinary understanding of our most distinctively human trait: language. (shrink)
I suggest that most discussions of intentional systems have overlooked an important aspect of living organisms: the intrinsic goal-directedness inherent in the behaviour of living eukaryotic cells. This goal directedness is nicely displayed by a normal cell’s ability to rearrange its own local material structure in response to damage, nutrient distribution or other aspects of its individual experience. While at a vastly simpler level than intentionality at the human cognitive level, I propose that this basic capacity of living things provides (...) a necessary building block for cognition and high-order intentionality, because the neurons that make up vertebrate brains, like most cells in our body, embody such capacities. I provisionally dub the capacities in question “nano-intentionality”: a microscopic form of “aboutness”. The form of intrinsic intentionality I propose is thoroughly materialistic, fully compatible with known biological facts, and derived non-mysteriously through evolution. Crucially, these capacities are not shared by any existing computers or computer components, and thus provide a clear, empirically-based distinction between brains and currently existing artificial information processing systems. I suggest that an appreciation of this aspect of living matter provides a potential route out of what may otherwise appear to be a hopeless philosophical quagmire confronting information-processing models of the mind. (shrink)
Explaining the transition from a signed to a spoken protolanguage is a major problem for all gestural theories. I suggest that Arbib's improved “beyond the mirror” hypothesis still leaves this core problem unsolved, and that Darwin's model of musical protolanguage provides a more compelling solution. Second, although I support Arbib's analytic theory of language origin, his claim that this transition is purely cultural seems unlikely, given its early, robust development in children.
A system of natural deduction rules is proposed for an idealized form of English. The rules presuppose a sharp distinction between proper names and such expressions as the c, a (an) c, some c, any c, and every c, where c represents a common noun. These latter expressions are called quantifiers, and other expressions of the form that c or that c itself, are called quantified terms. Introduction and elimination rules are presented for any, every, some, a (an), and the, (...) and also for any which, every which, and so on, as well as rules for some other concepts. One outcome of these rules is that Every man loves some woman is implied by, but does not imply, Some woman is loved by every man, since the latter is taken to mean the same as Some woman is loved by all men. Also, Jack knows which woman came is implied by Some woman is known by Jack to have come, but not by Jack knows that some woman came. (shrink)
Millikan's account of substance concepts fails to do away with features. Her approach simply moves the suite of relevant features into an encapsulated module. The crux of the problem for scientists studying human infants and nonhuman animals is to determine how individuals reidentify objects and events in the world.
Sussman and colleagues provide no evidence supporting their claim that the human vocal production system is specialized to produce locus equations with high correlations and linearity. We propose the alternative null hypothesis that these features result from physical and physiological factors common to all mammalian vocal tracts and we recommend caution in assuming that human speech production mechanisms are unique.
Abstract The growing field of clinical?developmental psychology has been influenced by Lawrence Kohlberg's theory of moral judgement. Too literal a use of structural theory, however, has hindered this field's advancement. This paper argues that a new theory of self is required to apply appropriately developmental theory to clinical practice. The model consists of two related dimensions of self: self?complexity and biographical themes (schemata and themata). A perspective on normal and atypical development given by the interactions between these components is described (...) and implications for practice are discussed. (shrink)