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Studying Social Communication in Primates: From Ethology and Comparative Zoology to Social Primatology, Evolutionary Psychology, and Evolutionary Linguistics

  • Nathalie GontierEmail author
  • Marco Pina
Chapter
Part of the Interdisciplinary Evolution Research book series (IDER, volume 1)

Abstract

Research fields adhere to particular epistemic frameworks that outline the methodological rules of conduct on how to study and interpret primate behavior as both social and communicative. Since the onset of social communication studies, epistemic focus has shifted from behaviorist observations to an examination of the cognitive and neurological capacities that underlie the observed communicative behavior and subsequently, toward an investigation of the evolutionary units, levels, and mechanisms whereby social communication evolved. This volume brings together scholars from within these diverse fields who (1) investigate the historical and epistemic roots of the primate communication/human language divide; (2) identify and analyze the building blocks of social communication; (3) examine how primate social communication strategies are evolutionary precursors of human language; and (4) analyze how social communication differs from human language. In their chapters, the contributors explain the merits and pitfalls of their field-specific epistemic approaches. They compare them to other theoretical frameworks and they give guidelines on how theory formation on the origin and evolution of social communication in primates can be enhanced by allowing for epistemic plurality.

Keywords

Social communication Language Epistemology Philosophy of science 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank the Portuguese Fund for Science and Technology (SFRH/BPD/89195/2012) as well as the American John Templeton Foundation (Grant ID 36288) for their support. We are grateful to Slawomir Wacewicz for proofreading the text for English orthography.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Applied Evolutionary Epistemology Lab, Centre for Philosophy of Science, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of LisbonLisbonPortugal

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