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Pointing

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Abstract

Although long heralded as a human species-unique gesture, pointing has now been demonstrated in numerous species of non-human animals. Many contemporary researchers argue that pointing for instrumental ends marks a different kind of psychological process from pointing to share attention as an end in itself. Thus, a large body of contemporary theory is built on presumptions about the hypothetical motivations underlying pointing. I will briefly outline some of the contexts and motivations in which humans point, and argue that virtually all human pointing can be interpreted in instrumental terms. If this is correct, then instrumentality, <i>per se</i>, cannot illuminate the evolutionary origins of joint attention.

References

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