- Our perception of what people are thinking is the most common reason we say things or make noises (vocalization).
- Animals have vocalizations that produce beneficial effects. However, these appear to be instinctive, not goal directed: animals can’t perceive a listener’s mental state.
(Includes examples of animal vocalizations)
- Some scientists say animal communication is different because it’s a response to stimuli whereas human communication is creative.
- These scholars say animals can’t lie. Lies require intention. Grice says that for a statement to mean something, the speaker must i. intend to make others believe something, and ii. intend their statement to be recognized as intending to make others believe something.
(It is believed animals can’t have such intentions, which implies they don’t meet Grice’s criteria.)
Maritain gives an example of honeybees communicating information – he claims it’s a mere conditioned reflex. This supports the idea that animals can’t intend to communicate.
- However, these scholars’ arguments are circular: they say, without evidence, that animals can’t think, and then say that this lack of thought means animal language is different.
But recent evidence suggests chimpanzees and other animals can think before communicating. Human and animal communication might not be so different.
Passage A is pretty straightforward: it’s mostly a long list of examples showing that animals often communicate information without knowing the mental states of others.
As humans, we normally judge someone else’s mental state before saying things. “Hmm, Sarah looks sad. I’ll ask her how she is doing.” But apart from chimpanzees, animals can’t judge mental states. So their communication isn’t necessarily goal directed (lines 27-29). That’s all there is to passage A.
Passage B is pretty abstract. If you didn’t understand it, carefully read my summary above: I tried to simplify the arguments.
But, you don’t really need to know paragraph two in passage B. This sort of philosophical, technical talk is rarely tested. If it is tested, you can simply refer back to the relevant paragraph and pay closer attention then. It’s a waste to focus too much on abstract details upfront.
I only remembered this about paragraph 2:
- Lies require intention.
- Grice and Maritain were mentioned in this paragraph.
- Maritain thinks honeybees communicate only by reflex.
That’s obviously a poor summary of the paragraph, yet it was enough to answer the questions. Combined with being prepared to reread specific lines if an answer mentioned, say, Grice.
Of course, Grice never was mentioned: his ideas were far too complicated to have been tested – the LSAT just put him there to confuse you and bog you down.
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