Place, U. T. (1998c). Behaviourism and the evolution of language. In Man Cheung Chung (Ed.), Current Trends in History and Philosophy of Psychology Volume 2 (Chapter 9, pp. 55-61). British Psychological Society.
[Abstract]The view that linguistic competence is acquired and maintained according to the principle of selective operant reinforcement is defended, partly on grounds of evolutionary probability and the special nature of human environmental adaptation, and partly on the basis of two strands of empirical evidence: experimental evidence from studies of "verbal conditioning" and observational evidence of naturally-occurring verbal interactions in the work of discourse and conversation analysts.  But, since selective operant reinforcement is as much part of animal as it is of human learning, that principle by itself cannot explain why only humans have developed language and why apes can, at best, attain to the linguistic competence of a human two-year-old.
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