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Computational PhenotypesTowards an Evolutionary Developmental Biolinguistics$
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Sergio Balari and Guillermo Lorenzo

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199665464

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199665464.001.0001

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The Dead End of Communication

The Dead End of Communication

(p.42) 3 The Dead End of Communication
Computational Phenotypes

Sergio Balari

Guillermo Lorenzo

Oxford University Press

Linguistic theory has been traditionally (but uncritically) committed to an approach that sees language as a particular instance of a larger class of systems of communication. Within a biolinguistic perspective, this position translates into the contention that language is a particular “animal communication system,” a natural kind comprising an extremely heterogeneous set of behaviors based on the externalization/exchange of signals between organisms. Putting aside some other previous criticisms concerning this tenet, the book's main objection is that this approach drives the evolutionary study of language to a dead end, because the concept of “animal communication system” does not refer to a true natural kind and thus no substantial evolutionary generalizations can be based on it.

Keywords:   communication theory, animal communication, natural kinds, eliminativism, functional analysis, adaptationism

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