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‘The ability to discriminate, to act differentially in the face of clues to the presence of food, danger or safety, is present in all animals and does not require reason. Nor does the learning, even of complex routines, require reason, for it is possible to learn how to act without learning that anything is the case.’
Davidson (1982b, 326); cf. (1995c, 207)
‘A child learning to speak is learning habits and associations which are just as much determined by the environment as the habit of expecting dogs to bark and cocks to crow’
(Russell 1921, p. 71)
‘[t]he child learns this language from the grown-ups by being trained to its use. I am using the word ‘trained’ in a way strictly analogous to that in which we talk of an animal being trained to do certain things. It is done by means of example, reward, punishment, and suchlike’
(Wittgenstein 1972, p. 77).
‘the child’s early learning of a verbal response depends on society's reinforcement of the response in association with the stimulations that merit the response’
(Quine 1960, p. 82)
stimulations -> utter 'nana'
stimulations -> press lever
‘there is a rudiment of communication in the simple discovery that sounds produce results. Crying is the first step toward language when crying is found to procure one or another form of relief or satisfaction. More specific sounds, imitated or not, are rapidly associated with more specific pleasures.
‘A large further step has been taken when the child notices that others also make distinctive sounds at the same time the child is having the experiences that provoke its own volunteered sounds. For the adult, these sounds have a meaning, perhaps as one word sentences. The adult sees herself as doing a little ostensive teaching: “Eat,” “Red,” “Ball,” “Mamma,” “Milk,” “No.” There is now room for what the adult views as error: the child says “Block” when it is a slab. This move fails to be rewarded, and the conditioning becomes more complex’
(Davidson 2000: 70-1; see also Davidson 1999: 11).