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Ronald J. Planer [18]Ronald J. Planer [1]
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Ronald J. Planer
Australian National University
  1.  32
    Arbitrary Signals and Cognitive Complexity.Ronald J. Planer & David Kalkman - 2021 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 72 (2):563-586.
    The arbitrariness of a signal has long been seen as a theoretically important but difficult to pin down notion. In this article, we suggest there are at least two different notions of arbitrariness at play in philosophical and scientific debates concerning the use of arbitrary signals, and work towards improved analyses of both. We then consider how these different types of arbitrariness can co-occur and come apart. Finally, we examine the connections between these two types of arbitrariness and the cognitive (...)
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  2.  39
    Communication and representation understood as sender–receiver coordination.Ronald J. Planer & Peter Godfrey-Smith - 2021 - Mind and Language 36 (5):750-770.
    Modeling work by Brian Skyrms and others in recent years has transformed the theoretical role of David Lewis's 1969 model of signaling. The latter can now be understood as a minimal model of communication in all its forms. In this article, we explain how the Lewis model has been generalized, and consider how it and its variants contribute to ongoing debates in several areas. Specifically, we consider connections between the models and four topics: The role of common interest in communication, (...)
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  3.  22
    Talking About Tools: Did Early Pleistocene Hominins Have a Protolanguage?Ronald J. Planer - 2017 - Biological Theory 12 (4):211-221.
    This article addresses the question of whether early Pleistocene hominins are plausibly viewed as having possessed a protolanguage, that is, a communication system exemplifying some but not all of the distinctive features of fully modern human language. I argue that the answer is “yes,” mounting evidence from the early Pleistocene “lithics niche.” More specifically, I first describe a cognitive platform that I think would have been sufficient, given appropriate socio-ecological conditions, for the creation and retention of a protolanguage. Then, using (...)
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  4.  20
    Protolanguage Might Have Evolved Before Ostensive Communication.Ronald J. Planer - 2017 - Biological Theory 12 (2):72-84.
    According to one currently influential line of thinking, the evolution of ostensive communication was a prerequisite for the evolution of human language. In this article, I distinguish between a strong and a weak version of this view and offer a sustained argument against the former. More specifically, the strong version of this view would have it that ostensive communication was a prerequisite not just for the evolution of fully modern language but for any language-like system of communication. I argue that (...)
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  5.  7
    Towards an Evolutionary Account of Human Kinship Systems.Ronald J. Planer - 2021 - Biological Theory 16 (3):148-161.
    Kinship plays a foundational role in organizing human social behavior on both local and more global scales. Hence, any adequate account of the evolution of human sociality must include an account of the evolution of human kinship. This article aims to make progress on the latter task by providing a few key pieces of an evolutionary model of kinship systems. The article is especially focused on the connection between primate social cognition and the origins of kinship systems. I argue that (...)
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  6. Replacement of the “genetic program” program.Ronald J. Planer - 2014 - Biology and Philosophy 29 (1):33-53.
    Talk of a “genetic program” has become almost as common in cell and evolutionary biology as talk of “genetic information”. But what is a genetic program? I understand the claim that an organism’s genome contains a program to mean that its genes not only carry information about which proteins to make, but also about the conditions in which to make them. I argue that the program description, while accurate in some respects, is ultimately misleading and should be abandoned. After that, (...)
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  7.  20
    The evolution of languages of thought.Ronald J. Planer - 2019 - Biology and Philosophy 34 (5):1-27.
    The idea that cognition makes use of one or more “languages of thought” remains central to much cognitive-scientific and philosophical theorizing. And yet, virtually no attention has been paid to the question of how a language of thought might evolve in the first place. In this article, I take some steps towards addressing this issue. With the aid of the so-called Sender–Receiver framework, I elucidate a family of distinctions and processes which enable us to see how languages of thought might (...)
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  8.  60
    Are Genetic Representations Read in Development?Ronald J. Planer - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (4):997-1023.
    The status of genes as bearers of semantic content remains very much in dispute among philosophers of biology. In a series of papers, Nicholas Shea has argued that his ‘infotel’ theory of semantics vindicates the claim that genes carry semantic content. On Shea’s account, each organism is associated with a ‘developmental system’ that takes genetic representations as inputs and produces whole-organism traits as outputs. Moreover, at least in his most recent work on the topic, Shea is explicit in claiming that (...)
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  9.  82
    On the Free-Rider Identification Problem.Ronald J. Planer - 2015 - Biological Theory 10 (2):134-144.
    Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis have argued that individual-selection accounts of human cooperation flounder in the face of the free-rider identification problem. Kim Sterelny has responded to this line of argument for group selection, arguing that the free-rider identification problem in fact poses no theoretical difficulty for individual-selection accounts. In this article, I set out to clarify Bowles and Gintis’ argument. As I see matters, the real crux of their argument is this: solving the free-rider identification problem, even in modestly (...)
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  10.  34
    What is Symbolic Cognition?Ronald J. Planer - 2019 - Topoi 40 (1):233-244.
    Humans’ capacity for so-called symbolic cognition is often invoked by evolutionary theorists, and in particular archaeologists, when attempting to explain human cognitive and behavioral uniqueness. But what is meant by “symbolic cognition” is often left underspecified. In this article, I identify and discuss three different ways in which the notion of symbolic cognition might be construed, each of them quite distinct. Getting clear on the nature of symbolic cognition is a necessary first step in determining what symbolic cognition might plausibly (...)
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  11. The contributions of U.T. Place, H. Feigl, and J.J.C. Smart to the identity theory of consciousness.Brian P. McLaughlin & Ronald J. Planer - 2014 - In Andrew Bailey (ed.), Philosophy of Mind: The Key Thinkers. Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 103-128.
  12. Gene-concept pluralism, causal specificity, and information. [REVIEW]Ronald J. Planer - forthcoming - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences.
  13.  10
    Like Hand, Like Mouth: On the Role of Gesture-Linked Mouth Actions in the Evolution of Language.Ronald J. Planer & Lauren W. Reed - 2021 - Biological Theory 16 (2):90-101.
    A number of language evolution researchers have argued that while language as we now know it is a predominately vocal affair, early language plausibly made extensive use of gesture. Relatedly, these same researchers often claim that while modern language in general uses arbitrary symbols, it is very likely that early language made extensive use of iconicity. Anyone accepting an account of early language along these lines must therefore explain how language shifted over time from a heavily gestural and iconic communication (...)
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  14. Rethinking Language, Mind, and Meaning, by Scott Soames.Ronald J. Planer - forthcoming - The Quarterly Review of Biology.
  15. Richard Wrangham's The Goodness Paradox. [REVIEW]Ronald J. Planer - 2020 - BJPS Review of Books.
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  16.  5
    Not by signalling alone: Music's mosaicism undermines the search for a proper function.Anton Killin, Carl Brusse, Adrian Currie & Ronald J. Planer - 2021 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 44.
    Mehr et al. seek to explain music's evolution in terms of a unitary proper function – signalling cooperative intent – which they cash out in two guises, coalition signalling and parental attention signalling. Although we recognize the role signalling almost certainly played in the evolution of music, we reject “ultimate” causal explanations which focus on a unidirectional, narrow range of causal factors.
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  17.  20
    Gene-concept pluralism, causal specificity, and information.Ronald J. Planer - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 53:129-133.
  18.  13
    On Scott-Phillips’ General Account of Communication.Ronald J. Planer - 2017 - Acta Biotheoretica 65 (4):253-270.
    The purpose of this paper is to critically engage with a recent attempt by Thom Scott-Phillips to offer a general account of communication. As a general account, it is intended to apply equally well to both non-human and human interactions which are prima facie communicative in character. However, so far, Scott-Phillips has provided little detail regarding how his account is supposed to apply to the latter set of cases. After presenting what I take to be the most plausible way of (...)
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  19.  2
    Theory of Mind, System-2 Thinking, and the Origins of Language.Ronald J. Planer - 2021 - In Sean Allen-Hermanson Anton Killin (ed.), Explorations in Archaeology and Philosophy. Synthese Library. Springer Verlag. pp. 171-195.
    There is growing acceptance among language evolution researchers that an increase in our ancestors’ theory of mind capacities was critical to the origins of language. However, little attention has been paid to the question of how those capacities were in fact upgraded. This article develops a novel hypothesis, grounded in contemporary cognitive neuroscience, on which our theory of mind capacities improved as a result of an increase in our System-2 thinking capacities, in turn based in an increase in our working (...)
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