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Folk Physics for ApesThe Chimpanzee's theory of how the world works$
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Daniel Povinelli

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780198572190

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198572190.001.0001

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Toward a folk physics for chimpanzees

Toward a folk physics for chimpanzees

(p.297) Chapter 12 Toward a folk physics for chimpanzees
Folk Physics for Apes

Daniel J. Povinelli

Oxford University Press

This chapter addresses some difficult theoretical issues which, up to this point, have been gingerly sidestepped. First, it offers an account of how chimpanzees interpret the interactions between the objects they use as tools and the effects that these objects produce. It illustrates the nature of this understanding by detailing one example of what is considered a ‘principle’ of the chimpanzees' folk physics. Second, it compares and contrasts a general theoretical stance with those of several previous theorists. Third, it outlines a number of potential objections to researcher'conclusions, and assesses each one in turn. The chapter concludes by offering a theory which may help to explain why chimpanzees and orangutans seem to make and use tools more than other nonhuman primates.

Keywords:   chimpanzees, orangutans, folk physics, tool use

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