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Tool Use and Causal Cognition$
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Teresa McCormack, Christoph Hoerl, and Stephen Butterfill

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199571154

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199571154.001.0001

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Why Do Language Use and Tool Use Both Count as Manifestations of Intelligence?

Why Do Language Use and Tool Use Both Count as Manifestations of Intelligence?

(p.169) 9 Why Do Language Use and Tool Use Both Count as Manifestations of Intelligence?
Tool Use and Causal Cognition

John Campbell

Oxford University Press

Language and tool use seem to be equally fundamental as manifestations of intelligence, but neither depends on the other. This chapter proposes that there are structural parallels between characterization of the meaning of a word and characterization of the significance of a tool. In both cases — the case of a word and the case of a tool — we need some notion of the ‘use’ that is characteristically or normatively made of the thing. And we also need some characterization of the aspect of the thing in virtue of which it has that use. In the case of a word, in some cases we'd talk about the reference of the term. In the case of a tool, in some cases we'd talk about the causal significance of the tool: the intrinsic properties in virtue of which it can be used for its purpose. In both cases, we can contrast someone who merely has grasped the use — someone who only knows how to make the correct moves with the thing, that is, with the word or the tool — from someone who is making intelligent use of the thing, who knows why it is that this is the right thing to use in that way, either because they know the reference of the word or because they know the intrinsic causal properties of the tool that matter for its purpose.

Keywords:   language, tool use, word, causal significance, characterization

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