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Do Baboons have a Language of Thought

Dr. Elisabeth Camp

Thursday, November 12, 2009, 12:00pm - 07:00pm

University of Pennsylvania, Department of Philosophy

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Dorothy Cheney and Robert Seyfarth have recently argued that baboons think in a propositional, discrete-valued, rule-governed, open-ended, and hierarchically structured representational medium; they conclude that baboons think in a Language of Thought, and that the primary reason they don't speak is that they lack a Theory of Mind.  I argue that a representational medium which possesses these five properties could still fall significantly short of a language in its expressive power, and explore the implications for our understanding of the distinctive expressive advantages of language.

Dr. Elisabeth Camp