Nature is surely at least as careful an economist as Henry Ford. It is not her habit to tolerate needless extravagance in the animals on her production lines: superfluous capacity is trimmed back, new capacity added only as and when it is needed. We do not expect therefore to find that animals possess abilities which far exceed the calls that natural living makes on them. If someone were to argue – as I shall suggest they might argue – that some primate species (and mankind in particular) are much cleverer than they need be, we know that they are most likely to be wrong. But it is not clear why they would be wrong. This paper explores a possible answer. It is an answer which has meant for me a re-thinking of the function of intellect.
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