Did language evolve like the vertebrate eye?

Botha R.P. (2002)


On various modern accounts, human language or some of its features evolved like the vertebrate eye by natural selection. The present article offers a critical appraisal of the way in which this idea is articulated in Pinker and Bloom's (1990) selectionist account of language evolution - the most sophisticated account of its kind. It is argued that this account is less than insightful since it fails to draw some of the conceptual distinctions that are central to a certain requirement for such selectionist accounts. The requirement states that language can be accorded the evolutionary status of an adaptation by natural selection if it exhibits complex adaptive design for some evolutionary significant function. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

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