Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Open Peer Commentary
Atran: Folk biology

Atran's biodiversity parser: Doubts about hierarchy and autonomy

Eugene S. Hunn a1
a1 Department of Anthropology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-3100


Atran argues that an autonomous ethnobiological information-processing module exists. This module imputes a “deep causal essence” to folk-biological taxa and uses a hierarchy of taxonomic ranks. I argue that Atran's own data suggest that rank is not an essential feature of the ethnobiological module, and that ethnobiological causal essences may be generalized to other domains and vice versa, limiting its autonomy.