Thursday, December 20, 2007

Monkey Business

So, apparently, humans are not alone in their willingness to pay for sex. Macaques will provide grooming services in exchange for mating services. To those who seem to view humans as so much more advanced then our non-language using cousins, this would seem to be just one more bit of evidence to the contrary. We're not really that much different. Next we'll have to look and see if there's foot tapping going on between male macaques behind the bush.

But seriously, for those philosophers today who like to insist that since macaques and other monkeys do not use language, they couldn't possibly possess concepts (I'm talking to you, Brandomian inferentialists) this finding would appear to put a dent in your armor. These primates are engaged in a social practice, one which necessitates an understanding of certain social positions as well as entitlements and commitments. Now, I don't personally buy into the whole "social practice" bit when it comes to the origins of conceptual content, but isn't this enough, on your own terms, to say that these monkeys might actually have a concept or two?

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