Cognitivism, adaptationism and pointing

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I analyze the conceptual foundations of Tomasello and colleagues’ influential theory of the origins of pointing gestures in an attempt to clarify its aims and limit its scope. After some preliminary remarks, I consider the postulated cognitive mechanisms that are claimed to be the developmental basis for the sharing of intentional states with others, and then turn to the postulated evolutionary mechanisms that are said to serve as a basis for cognitive abilities. I discuss the strengths and limitations of this account in terms of its parent meta-theoretical positions of cognitivism and adaptationism respectively. Keywords: pointing; mental states; adaptations; intentions; shared intentionality


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