Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Open Peer Commentary

So, are we the massively lucky species?

Derek C. Penna1, Keith J. Holyoaka1 and Daniel J. Povinellia2

a1 Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095. [email protected] [email protected]

a2 Department of Biology, University of Louisiana, Lafayette, LA 70560. [email protected]


We are in vehement agreement with most of Vaesen's key claims. But Vaesen fails to consider or rebut the possibility that there are deep causal dependencies among the various cognitive traits he identifies as uniquely human. We argue that “higher-order relational reasoning” is one such linchpin trait in the evolution of human tool use, social intelligence, language, and culture.