Evolutionary epistemology applied to evolutionary linguistics.

Nathalie Gontier

Onderzoeksoutput: Meeting abstract (Book)


Evolutionary linguistics is currently a fast rising discipline. One of its basic tenets is that the emergence of language needs to be understood as an evolutionary process, and therefore, that it needs to be studied by evolutionary theories such as natural selection, systems theory, etc. These evolutionary mechanisms are consequently applied to a variety of different phenomena, including amongst others, mirror neurons, (elements of) the supralaryngeal vocal tract, pointing, grammar, presumed language genes such as the FOXP2 gene, Pidgins and Creoles, etc.
The study of these different phenomena pose interesting epistemological problems. Namely, are these different phenomena units or levels of language evolution? And which evolutionary mechanisms are best suited to explain the evolution of these language-related phenomena?
Traditionally, the units and levels of selection debate has revolved around the concepts of replicators and interactors and how these units are selected at the level of an environment. However, many of the items under investigation within evolutionary linguistics do not lend themselves to an easy classification of the sort "x is a replicator" or "x is an interactor". The fact that such a classification is difficult in turn disables a clear identification of what the elements are that actually evolve within language evolution.
To overcome this barrier, a methodology is introduced that is informed by evolutionary epistemology, and that allows one to clearly distinguish between the different units, levels and evolutionary mechanisms that are involved in language evolution.
Originele taal-2English
TitelI Jornada de Pós-Graduação no Centro de Filosofia das Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal.
StatusPublished - 4 mrt 2009

Publicatie series

NaamI Jornada de Pós-Graduação no Centro de Filosofia das Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal.


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