The emphasis on individual differences in evolutionary theories is important and has not received adequate attention. Strategic Pluralism makes a major contribution by addressing these issues, but like other evolutionary models (e.g., game theory) does not articulate the specific mechanisms underlying strategy selection. Specification of such mechanisms is an essential next step in the development of these models.
The “new” paradigm proposed by Shanker & King is neither new nor a significant advance in our understanding of communication. Although we agree that social interaction is important, ignoring the roles of mental processes and the significance of information exchange is theoretically dangerous. Moreover, the “communicative dance” is sequential. If one partner does not lead, how is the other to follow?
We agree that human culture is unique. However, we also believe that an understanding of the evolution of culture requires a comparative approach. We offer examples of collaborative behaviors from dolphin play, and argue that consideration should be given to whether various forms of culture are best viewed as falling along a continuum or as discrete categories.
Dolphins exhibit both action-level imitation (ALI) and program-level imitation (PLI). Dolphins may use ALI primarily for social cohesion, whereas PLI seems more likely to occur in goal-directed, problem-solving contexts. Both PLI and insightful problem solving require a recognition of the functional relations between actions and outcomes. Insightful problem solving, however, involves the creation of a program in the absence of a model, and therefore requires a higher order appreciation and application of the relations between actions and outcomes.