On the controversy over non-human culture: the reasons for disagreement and possible directions toward consensus.
In recent decades, animal behaviorists have been using the term culture in relation to non-human animals, starting a controversy with social scientists that is still far from cooling down. I investigated the meanings of the term culture as used by social and cultural anthropologists, and also its recent use by ethologists, in order to better understand this controversy and identify possible paths that might lead to a consensus. I argue that disagreements in the level of theories involve definitions of culture and theories of behavioral development, while disagreements in the level of worldviews include the acceptance or rejection of the idea of a radical distinction between humans and other animals. Reaching a synthetic approach to (human and non-human) animal behavior depends on constructing a consensus in both levels. It is also necessary to discuss how to include symbolic communication in a comparative perspective. I conclude that this might lead to the abandonment or reconstruction of the related dichotomies of nature-culture, innate-acquired and gene-environment. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Neotropical Behaviour.