French cognitive anthropologist Dan Sperber has been getting quite a lot of publicity for an article in which he and a coauthor suggest that the point of humans arguing is to argue.  The broader theory is termed the “argumentative theory of reasoning,” and is also known as the “the social brain hypothesis.”  You can read a summary here:

http://edge.org/conversation/the-argumentative-theory

And a further discussion of the (depressing) implications for education here:

http://chronicle.com/blogs/brainstorm/i-argue-therefore-i-am/37448?sid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en

And you can read the original article here:
http://edge.org/conversation/the-argumentative-theory

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