Set in a parallel universe, in a galaxy far far away, an Earth-like planet orbiting a yellow dwarf star with the mass of 1 solar mass. And yes, indeed that planet comes with a natural satellite that seems to be tidal locked but anyhow, could a specie, most probably mammalian would develop sapient intelligence through either evolutionary or selective pressure alone without inventing tools(physical object)? To qualify a sapient at least in my world is the ability to ask irrational questions on it's own... BTW a parrot named Alex tried to cheat but was took cared of.
Unlikely, but Plausible
My first reaction was no, because use of tools is one of the ways we define intelligence. For example with logical thinking and knowledge of cause and effect you can reason that hitting something with a pointy stick is better than punching them. However, your question was not about using tools, but making them.
So in order for this to work you would need a species that:
- Benefits from increased communication (a social or pack animal)
- Benefits from logical thought
- Lacks the physical capability to manipulate the environment with enough precision to construct objects.
For example a pack of omnivorous wolves. Increases in intelligence and communication could help them hunt, and if they figured out limited farming or ranching they would have a massive benefit to their survival, but lack the physical means to actually construct tools. They would certainly use any useful objects they found in the world around them to their benefit.
The reason this is not very likely, is that any genetic variance that increased precise manipulation would become hugely beneficial and would spread throughout the population. This would have to never have happened.
I would probably turn that question around, why would a sapient intelligent species not use tools if they have the capacity to make them.
Tools are not a necessity for intelligence (or sapiens), though it's an inevitable outcome of intelligence. Any entity with the mental capacity to shape the world around it to it's own benefit, will invariably do so eventually.
I think you should clarify whether you mean "without MAKING tools" versus "without USING tools". There are a LOT of intelligent animals that use 'found' tools including primates, birds, and even octopus.
If the question is "can you be sapient without USING tools", I think that's extremely unlikely, and would be possible with a creature that doesn't have any ability to manipulate physical objects.
If the question is "can you be sapient without MAKING tools", I think that's entirely possible and if you go on youtube and watch some of the crazy stuff octopus do, you might even argue that it's already happened.