Mind & Society

, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 109–128 | Cite as

Language co-evolved with the rule of law

  • Chris KnightEmail author
Original Article


Many scholars assume a connection between the evolution of language and that of distinctively human group-level morality. Unfortunately, such thinkers frequently downplay a central implication of modern Darwinian theory, which precludes the possibility of innate psychological mechanisms evolving to benefit the group at the expense of the individual. Group level moral regulation is indeed central to public life in all known human communities. The production of speech acts would be impossible without this. The challenge, therefore, is to explain on a Darwinian basis how life could have become subject to the rule of law. Only then will we have an appropriate social framework in which to contextualize our models of how language may have evolved.


Language evolution Human origins Ritual Religion Totemism Trust Primates Signal evolution Darwinism Menstruation Commitment Contracts Reliability 


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Copyright information

© Fondazione Rosselli 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social Sciences, Media and Cultural StudiesUniversity of East LondonLondonEngland

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