Primate Language and the Playback Experiment, in 1890 and 1980

Journal of the History of Biology 38 (3):461-493 (2005)
Abstract
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)
DOI 10.1007/s10739-005-0554-z
Options
 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
Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 28,126
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
The Principles of Psychology.William James - 1890 - Dover Publications.
The Social Construction of What?Ian Hacking - 1999 - Harvard University Press.

View all 21 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
A Place That Answers Questions: Primatological Field Sites and the Making of Authentic Observations.Amanda Rees - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 37 (2):311-333.
Yerkes, Hamilton and the Experimental Study of the Ape Mind: From Evolutionary Psychiatry to Eugenic Politics.Marion Thomas - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 37 (2):273-294.
What's in a Name? The Vervet Predator Calls and the Limits of the Washburnian Synthesis.Gregory Radick - 2006 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 37 (2):334-362.

View all 8 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Interpreting the Baboon. [REVIEW]Kristin Andrews - 2008 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 12 (1):5-6.
Aspects of Human Language: Where Motherese?Emmanuel Gilissen - 2004 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 27 (4):514-514.
Animal Communication and Neo-Expressivism.Andrew McAninch, Grant Goodrich & Colin Allen - 2009 - In Robert W. Lurz (ed.), The Philosophy of Animal Minds. Cambridge University Press. pp. 128--144.
Primate Cognition.Amanda Seed & Michael Tomasello - 2010 - Topics in Cognitive Science 2 (3):407-419.
The Evidential Significance of Thought Experiment in Science.W. J. - 1996 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 27 (2):233-250.
Imitation Systems, Monkey Vocalization, and the Human Language.Emmanuel Gilissen - 2005 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28 (2):133-134.
Experiments and Thought Experiments in Natural Science.David Atkinson - 2003 - Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science 232:209-226.
The Importance of Being Chimpanzee.Nancy Howell - 2003 - Theology and Science 1 (2):179-191.
The Experiment in Macroeconometrics.John Aldrich & Anna Staszewska - 2007 - Journal of Economic Methodology 14 (2):143-166.
Fisica y Experimentacion.Allan Franklin - 2002 - Theoria 17 (2):221-242.

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2011-05-29

Total downloads

14 ( #334,553 of 2,171,803 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #326,702 of 2,171,803 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums