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The dual nature of tools and their makeover

  • Antonio Rizzo (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 15 June 2012

Vaesen argues that functional knowledge differentiates humans from non-human primates. However, the rationale he provides for this position is open to question – with respect to both the underlying theoretical assumptions and inferences drawn from certain empirical studies. Indeed, there is some recent empirical work that suggests that functional fixedness is not necessarily uniquely human. I also question the central role of stable function representations in Vaesen's account of tool production and use.

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D. Hanus , N. Mendes , C. Tennie & J. Call (2011) Comparing the performances of apes (Gorilla gorilla, Pan troglodytes, Pongo pygmaeus) and human children (Homo sapiens) in the floating peanut task. PLoS ONE 6(6):e19555.

N. Mendes , D. Hanus & J. Call (2007) Raising the level: Orangutans use water as a tool. Biology Letters 3:453–55.

H. Rakoczy (2008) Pretence as individual and collective intentionality. Mind and Language 23:499517.

C. Tennie , J. Call & M. Tomasello (2010) Evidence for emulation in chimpanzees in social settings using the floating peanut task. PLoS ONE 5(5):e10544.

K. Vaesen (2011) The functional bias in the dual nature of technical artefacts program. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 42:190–97.

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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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