Are non-human primates Gricean? Intentional communication in language evolution


The field of language evolution has recently made Gricean pragmatics central to its task, particularly within comparative studies between human and non-human primate communication. The standard model of Gricean communication requires a set of complex cognitive abilities, such as belief attribution and understanding nested higher-order mental states. On this model, non-human primate communication is then of a radically different kind to ours. Moreover, the cognitive demands in the standard view are also too high for human infants, who nevertheless do engage in communication. In this paper I critically assess the standard view and contrast it with an alternative, minimal model of Gricean communication recently advanced by Richard Moore. I then raise two objections to the minimal model. The upshot is that this model is conceptually unstable and fails to constitute a suitable alternative as a middle ground between full-fledged human communication and simpler forms of non-human animal communication.

Download options


External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library


Added to PP

65 (#180,106)

6 months
14 (#56,868)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Lucas Battich
Institut Jean Nicod

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Gricean Communication and Cognitive Development.Richard Moore - 2017 - Philosophical Quarterly 67 (267):pqw049.
From Code to Speaker Meaning.Kim Sterelny - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (6):819-838.
Origins of Meaning: Must We ‘Go Gricean’?Dorit Bar-on - 2013 - Mind and Language 28 (3):342-375.
The Cognitive Implications of Intentional Communication: A Multifaceted Mirror.David A. Leavens - 2018 - In Laura Desirèe Di Paolo, Fabio Di Vincenzo & Francesca De Petrillo (eds.), Evolution of Primate Social Cognition. Springer Verlag. pp. 59-77.
Interpersonal Communication as Social Action.Antonella Carassa & Marco Colombetti - 2015 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 45 (4-5):407-423.
Presumptions in Communication.Andrei Moldovan - 2016 - Studia Humana 5 (3):104-117.