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Thinking about kinship and thinking

  • Doug Jones (a1)

The target article proposes a theory uniting the anthropological study of kin terminology with recent developments in linguistics and cognitive science. The response to comments reaches two broad conclusions. First, the theory may be relevant to several current areas of research, including (a) the nature and scope of the regular, “grammatical” side of language, (b) the organization of different domains of conceptual structure, including parallels across domains, their taxonomic distribution and implications for evolution, and (c) the influence of conceptual structure on social structure. Second, the theory compares favorably with alternatives, including (a) the theory that kin terminology is not really that complicated, (b) the theory that kin terms mirror social categories, (c) componential analysis, and (d) kinship algebra. If further research in anthropology, linguistics, and other fields supports the theory, and confirms the psychological reality of proposed mechanisms, then kinship may emerge as a model system for the study of important issues in cognition and social organization.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

M. Alvard (2003) Kinship, lineage identity, and an evolutionary perspective on the structure of cooperative big game hunting groups in Indonesia. Human Nature 14:129–63.

D. L. Cheney & R. M. Seyfarth (2007) Baboon metaphysics: The evolution of a social mind. University of Chicago Press.

A. Coult (1966) A simplified method for the transformational analysis of kin terms. American Anthropologist 68:1476–83.

R. Jackendoff (2002) Foundations of language:Bbrain, meaning, grammar, and evolution. Oxford University Press.

D. Jones (2000) Group nepotism and human kinship. Current Anthropology 41:779809.

D. Jones (2003b) The generative psychology of kinship: Part II. Generating variation from universal building blocks with optimality theory. Evolution and Human Behavior 24:320–50.

D. Jones (2004) The universal psychology of kinship: Evidence from language. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 8(5):211–15.

J. Mikhail (2007) Universal moral grammar: Theory, evidence and the future. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 11:143–52.

D. Read (2008) Working memory: A cognitive limit to non-human primate recursive thinking prior to hominid evolution. Evolutionary Psychology 6:676724.

D. Sperber & L. Hirschfeld (2004) The cognitive foundations of cultural stability and diversity. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 8:4046.

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Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • ISSN: 0140-525X
  • EISSN: 1469-1825
  • URL: /core/journals/behavioral-and-brain-sciences
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