Academic publications

Scott-Phillips, T. C. (in press). A (simple) experimental demonstration that cultural evolution is not replicative, but reconstructive – and an explanation of why this difference matters. Journal of Cognition & Culture.

Scott-Phillips, T. C. (in press). Cognition and communication. In H. Callan (Ed.), International Encyclopaedia of Anthropology.

Slocombe, K., & Scott-Phillips, T. C. (in press). Communication and language. In: M. Müller et al. (Eds.), Chimpanzees & Human Evolution. Cambridge, MA: HUP.

Scott-Phillips, T. C. (2017). Pragmatics and the aims of language evolution. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 24(1), 186-189.

Vullioud C., Clément F., Scott-Phillips T., & Mercier H. (2017). Confidence as an expression of commitment: Why misplaced expressions of confidence backfire. Evolution & Human Behavior, 38(1), 9-17.

Scott-Phillips, T. C. (2016). Can cultural evolution bridge scientific continents? (Essay review of T. Lewens, ‘Cultural Evolution: Conceptual Challenges’). Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 57, 170-173.

Scott-Phillips, T. C. (2016). Meaning in animal communication: Summarising the debateAnimal Cognition, 19(1), 233-238.

Scott-Phillips, T. C. (2015). Meaning in animal and human communication. Animal Cognition, 18(3), 801-805.

Scott-Phillips, T. C. (2015). Nonhuman primate communication, pragmatics, and the origins of language. Current Anthropology, 56(1), 56-80.
(Target article, with nine commentaries, and my response, ‘Towards a comparative pragmatics?’)

Scott-Phillips, T. C. (2015). Language and communication. In: V. Zeigler-Hill et al. (Eds.), Evolutionary Perspectives on Social Psychology (pp. 279-290). New York, NY: Springer.

Scott-Phillips, T. C. (2015). Précis of Speaking Our Minds (2015). International Cognition & Culture Institute.
(This précis opened a two-week online book club, focused on Speaking Our Minds.)

Scott-Phillips, T. C., & Sperber, D. (2015). The mutual relevance of teaching and cultural attraction (commentary on M. A. Kline, ‘How to learn about teaching: An evolutionary framework for the study of teaching behavior in humans and other animals’). Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 38, e31.

O’Grady, C.*, Kliesch, C.*, Smith, K., & Scott-Phillips, T. C. (2015). The ease and extent of recursive mindreading, across implicit and explicit tasks. Evolution & Human Behavior, 36(4), 313-322.
(* joint first-authors)

final cover


Scott-Phillips, T. C. (2014). Speaking Our Minds. London: Palgrave Macmillan.


Scott-Phillips, T. C., & Dickins, T. E. (2014). Group-level traits can be studied with standard evolutionary theory (commentary on P. E. Smaldino, ‘The cultural evolution of emergent group-level traits’). Behavioral and Brain Sciences 37(3), 273-274.

Scott-Phillips, T. C., Gurney, J., Ivens, A., Diggle, S. P., & Popat, R. (2014). Combinatorial communication in bacteria: Implications for the origins of linguistic generativityPLoS One, 9(4), e95929.
(Press coverage: The Metro, ITV, Business Standard, Science Daily, Zee News, Belfast Telegraph, Times of Malta, Northern Echo, and numerous others. I also did a short interview with BBC Tees.)

Scott-Phillips, T. C., Laland, K. N., Shuker, D. M., Dickins, T. E. & West, S. A. (2014). The niche construction perspective: A critical appraisalEvolution, 68(5), 1231-1243.

Blythe, R. A., & Scott-Phillips, T. C. (2014). Simulating the real origins of communicationPLoS One, 9(11), e113636.

Claidière, N.*, Scott-Phillips, T. C.* & Sperber, D. (2014). How Darwinian is cultural evolution? Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 369, 20130368.
(* joint first-authors)
(Online discussion: Scientia Salon, Alberto Acerbi, Alberto Acerbi (again))

Cornforth, D. M., Popat, R., McNally, L., Gurney, J., Scott-Phillips, T. C., Ivens, A., Diggle, S. P., & Brown, S. P. (2014). Combinatorial quorum-sensing communication allows bacteria to resolve physical and social uncertainty. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(11), 4280-4284.
(Press coverage: Daily Mail, The Herald, The Scotsman, The Times, BBC.)

Scott-Phillips, T. C. (2013). Defending an effects-based definition of communication (commentary on Scarantino, A., Animal communication as information-mediated influence). In: U. Stegmann (Ed.), Animal Communication Theory: Information and Influence (pp. 184-185). Cambridge: CUP.

Scott-Phillips, T. C. (2013). Functional issues in animal communication research (commentary on Rendall, D. & Owren, M. J., Communication without meaning or information: Abandoning language-based and informational constructs in animal communication theory). In: U. Stegmann (Ed.), Animal Communication Theory: Information and Influence (pp. 82-83). Cambridge: CUP.

Scott-Phillips, T. C. & Blythe, R. A. (2013). Why is combinatorial communication rare in the natural world, and why is language an exception to this trend? Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 10(88).
(Supplementary Information here.)
(Blog discussion: Replicated Typo.)

Scott-Phillips, T. C. & Kirby, S. (2013). Information, influence and inference in language evolution. In U. Stegmann (Ed.), Animal Communication Theory: Information and Influence (pp. 421-442). Cambridge: CUP.
(This chapter includes three commentaries, and my response.)

Dezecache, G., Mercier, H. & Scott-Phillips, T. C. (2013). Emotional communication: An evolutionary perspectiveJournal of Pragmatics, 59B, 221-233.

Grosse, G.*, Scott-Phillips, T. C.* & Tomasello, M. (2013). Three-year-olds hide their communicative intentions in appropriate contextsDevelopmental Psychology, 49(11), 2095-2101.
(* joint first-authors)

Skarabela, B., Allen, S. & Scott-Phillips, T. C. (2013). Joint attention helps explain why children omit new arguments. Journal of Pragmatics, 56, 5-14.

Scott-Phillips, T. C., Blythe, R., Gardner, A. & West, S. A. (2012). How do communication systems emerge? Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, B, 279(1735), 1943-1949.
(Supplementary information here.)


Scott-Phillips, T. C., Tamariz, M., Cartmill, E. A., & Hurford, J. R. (Eds.) (2012). The Evolution of Language: Proceedings of 9th International Conference. Singapore: World Scientific.

Scott-Phillips, T. C., Dickins, T. E. & West, S. A. (2011). Evolutionary theory and the ultimate/proximate distinction in the human behavioural sciences. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6(1), 38-47.
(Blog discussion: Rob Kurzban.)

Abbot, P. & 136 other authors, including Scott-Phillips, T. C. (2011). Inclusive fitness theory and eusocialityNature, 471, e1-e4.
(This is an infamous commentary, which has been much discussed both within and outside academia. Jon Wilkins, among others, provides a good, accessible summary of the controversy.)

Scott-Phillips, T. C. (2010). The evolution of relevance. Cognitive Science, 34(4), 583-601.

Scott-Phillips, T. C. (2010). Animal communication: Insights from linguistic pragmatics. Animal Behaviour, 79(1), e1-e4.

Scott-Phillips, T. C. (2010). The evolution of communication: Humans may be exceptional. Interaction Studies, 11(1), 78-99. 
(Reprinted (2012) in: Experimental Semiotics: Studies in the Emergence and Evolution of Human Communication (pp. 79-100). B. Galantucci & S. Garrod (Eds.) Amsterdam: John Benjamins)

Scott-Phillips, T. C. (2010). Evolutionary psychology and the origins of language. Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, 8(4), 289-307.

Scott-Phillips, T. C. (2010). Evolutionarily stable communication and pragmatics. In A. Benz, et al. (Eds.), Language, Games, and Evolution (pp. 117-133). Amsterdam: AUP.

Scott-Phillips, T. C. & Kirby, S. (2010). Language evolution in the laboratory. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 14(9), 411-417.
Blog discussion: Replicated Typo.)

Scott-Phillips, T. C., Kirby, S., & Ritchie, G. R. S. (2009). Signalling signalhood and the emergence of communication. Cognition, 113(2), 226-233.

Scott-Phillips, T. C. (2008). Defining biological communication. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 21(2), 387-395.

Scott-Phillips, T. C. (2008). On the correct application of animal signalling theory to human communication. In A. D. M. Smith, et al. (Eds.), The Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on the Evolution of Language (pp.275-282). Singapore: World Scientific.

Scott-Phillips, T. C. (2007). The social evolution of language, and the language of social evolutionEvolutionary Psychology, 5(4), 740-753.

Scott-Phillips, T. C. (2006). Why talk? Speaking as selfish behaviour. In A. Cangelosi, et al. (Eds.). The Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on the Evolution of Language (pp.299-306). Singapore: World Scientific.