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Abstract or Description

In recent years, many scholars have suggested that the Baldwin effect may play an important role in the evolution of language. However, the Baldwin effect is a multifaceted and controversial process and the assessment of its connection with language is difficult without a formal model. This paper provides a first step in this direction. We examine a game-theoretic model of the interaction between plasticity (represented by Herrnstein reinforcement learning) and evolution in the context of a simple language game. Additionally, we describe three distinct aspects of the Baldwin effect: the Simpson–Baldwin effect, the Baldwin expediting effect and the Baldwin optimizing effect. We find that a simple model of the evolution of language lends theoretical plausibility to the existence of the Simpson–Baldwin and the Baldwin optimizing effects in this arena, but not the Baldwin expediting effect.



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Philosophical Studies, 147, 7-21.