Date of Award

Spring 4-20-2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Philosophy

First Advisor

Andrea Scarantino

Second Advisor

George Graham

Third Advisor

Michael Owren

Abstract

Grice (1982) and Bar-On and Green (2010) each provide 'continuity stories' which attempt to explain how a human-like language could emerge from the primitive communication practices of non-human animals. I offer desiderata for a proper account of linguistic continuity in order to argue that these previous accounts fall short in important ways. I then introduce the recent evolutionary literature on non-cooperative communication in order to construct a continuity story which better satisfies the proposed desiderata while retaining the positive aspects of the proposals of Grice and Bar-On and Green. The outcome of this project is a more tenable and empirically investigable framework chronicling the evolution of human-like language from communicative abilities currently found in non-human animals.

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Philosophy Commons

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