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
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DOI 10.1080/09515089008572988
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References found in this work BETA
Christopher Gauker (1990). Semantics Without Reference. Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 31 (3):437-461.

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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.

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