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7.1a. Nativism in Cognitive Science (Nativism in Cognitive Science on PhilPapers)

See also:
Antony, Louise M. (2001). Empty heads? Mind and Language 16 (2):193-214.   (Cited by 7 | Google | More links)
Ariew, André (1996). Innateness and canalization. Philosophy of Science Supplement 63 (3):19-27.   (Cited by 63 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Cognitive scientists often employ the notion of innateness without defining it. The issue is, how is innateness defined in biology? Some critics contend that innateness is not a legitimate concept in biology. In this paper I will argue that it is. However, neither the concept of high heritability nor the concept of flat norm of reaction (two popular accounts in the biology literature) define innateness. An adequate account is found in developmental biology. I propose that innateness is best defined in terms of C. H. Waddington's concept of canalization
Ariew, Andre (1999). Innateness is canalization: In defense of a developmental account of innateness. In Valerie Gray Hardcastle & Valerie (eds.), [Book Chapter] (in Press). MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.   (Cited by 62 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Lorenz proposed in his (1935) articulation of a theory of behavioral instincts that the objective of ethology is to distinguish behaviors that are “innate” from behaviors that are “learned” (or “acquired”). Lorenz’s motive was to open the investigation of certain “adaptive” behaviors to evolutionary theorizing. Accordingly, since innate behaviors are “genetic”, they are open to such investigation. By Lorenz’s light an innate/acquired or learned dichotomy rested on a familiar Darwinian distinction between genes and environments. Ever since Lorenz, ascriptions of innateness have become widespread in the cognitive, behavioral, and biological sciences. The trend continues despite decades of strong arguments that show, in particular, the dichotomy that Lorenz invoked in his theory of behavioral instincts is literally false: no biological trait is the product of genes alone. Some critics suggest that the failure of Lorenz’s account shows that innateness is not well-defined in biology and the practice of ascribing innateness to various biological traits should be dropped from respectable science. Elsewhere (Ariew 1996) I argued that despite the arguments of critics, there really is a biological phenomenon underlying the concept of innateness. On my view, innateness is best understood in terms of C.H. Waddington’s concept of “canalization”, i.e. the degree to which a trait is innate is the degree to which its developmental outcome is canalized. The degree to which a developmental outcome is canalized is the degree to which the developmental process is bound to produce a particular endstate despite environmental fluctuations both in the development’s initial state and during the course of development. The canalization account differs in many ways to the traditional ways that ethologists such as Konrad Lorenz originally understood the concept of innateness. Most importantly, on the canalization account the distinction between innate and acquired is not a dichotomy, as Konrad Lorenz had it, but rather a matter of degree difference that lies along a spectrum with highly canalized development outcomes on the one end and highly environmentally sensitive development outcomes on the other end. Nevertheless, I justified the canalization account on the basis of a set of desiderata or criteria that I suggested falls-out of what seemed uncontroversial about Lorenz’s account of innateness (briefly): innateness is a property of a developing individual, innateness denotes environmental stability, and innate-ascriptions are useful in certain natural selection explanations (more below). From that same set of desiderata I argued (in my 1996) that neither the concept of heritability nor of norms of reactions—two concepts from population genetics—suffice to ground innateness. In this essay, I wish to provide further support of the canalization account in two ways. First, I wish to better motivate the desiderata by revisiting a debate between Konrad Lorenz and Daniel Lehrman over the meaning and explanatory usefulness of innate ascriptions in ethology. Second, I wish to compare my canalization account of innateness with accounts proposed by contemporary philosophers, one by Stephen Stich (1975), another by Elliott Sober (forthcoming), and a third by William Wimsatt (1986)
Baker, Mark C. (2006). The innate endowment for language: Underspecified or overspecified? In Peter Carruthers (ed.), The Innate Mind: Culture and Cognition. New York: Oxford University Press New York.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Bechtel, William & Abrahamsen, Adele (2005). Mechanistic explanation and the nature-nurture controversy. Bulletin d'Histoire Et d'pistmologie Des Sciences de La Vie 12:75-100.   (Google)
Abstract: Both in biology and psychology there has been a tendency on the part of many investigators to focus solely on the mature organism and ignore development. There are many reasons for this, but an important one is that the explanatory framework often invoked in the life sciences for understanding a given phenomenon, according to which explanation consists in identifying the mechanism that produces that phenomenon, both makes it possible to side-step the development issue and to provide inadequate resources for actually explaining development. When biologists and psychologists do take up the question of development, they find themselves confronted with two polarizing positions of nativism and empiricism. However, the mechanistic framework, insofar as it emphasizes organization and recognizes the potential for self-organization, does in fact provide the resources for an account of development which avoids the nativism-empiricism dichotomy
Bechtel, William P. (1996). What knowledge must be in the head in order to acquire language. In B. Velichkovsky & Duane M. Rumbaugh (eds.), Communicating Meaning: The Evolution and Development of Language. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.   (Cited by 9 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Many studies of language, whether in philosophy, linguistics, or psychology, have focused on highly developed human languages. In their highly developed forms, such as are employed in scientific discourse, languages have a unique set of properties that have been the focus of much attention. For example, descriptive sentences in a language have the property of being "true" or "false," and words of a language have senses and referents. Sentences in a language are structured in accord with complex syntactic rules. Theorists focusing on language are naturally led to ask questions such as what constitutes the meanings of words and sentences and how are the principles of syntax encoded in the heads of language users. While there is an important function for inquiries into the highly developed forms of these cultural products (Abrahamsen, 1987), such a focus can be quite misleading when we want to explain how these products have arisen or the human capacity to use language. The problem is that focusing on its most developed forms makes linguistic ability seem to be a _sui generis_ phenomenon, not related to, and hence not explicable in terms of other cognitive capacities. Chomsky's (1980) postulation of a specific language module equipped with specialized resources needed to process language and possessed only by hum ans is not a surprising result
Boyd, Robert & Richerson, Peter (2006). Culture, adaptation, and innateness. In Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence & Stephen P. Stich (eds.), The Innate Mind: Culture and Cognition.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Cain, M. J. (2006). Concept nativism and the rule following considerations. Acta Analytica 21 (38):77-101.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: In this paper I argue that the most prominent and familiar features of Wittgenstein’s rule following considerations generate a powerful argument for the thesis that most of our concepts are innate, an argument that echoes a Chomskyan poverty of the stimulus argument. This argument has a significance over and above what it tells us about Wittgenstein’s implicit commitments. For, it puts considerable pressure on widely held contemporary views of concept learning, such as the view that we learn concepts by constructing prototypes. This should lead us to abandon our general default hostility to concept nativism and be much more sceptical of claims made on behalf of learning theories
Carruthers, Peter (ed.) (2005). The Innate Mind: Structure and Contents. New York: Oxford University Press New York.   (Cited by 10 | Google)
Abstract: This is the first volume of a projected three-volume set on the subject of innateness. The extent to which the mind is innate is one of the central questions in the human sciences, with important implications for many surrounding debates. By bringing together the top nativist scholars in philosophy, psychology, and allied disciplines these volumes provide a comprehensive assessment of nativist thought and a definitive reference point for future nativist inquiry. The Innate Mind: Structure and Content, concerns the fundamental architecture of the mind, addressing such question as: What capacities, processes, representations, biases, and connections are innate? How do these innate elements feed into a story about the development of our mature cognitive capacities, and which of them are shared with other members of the animal kingdom? The editors have provided an introduction giving some of the background to debates about innateness and introducing each of the subsequent essays, as well as a consolidated bibliography that will be a valuable reference resource for all those interested in this area. The volume will be of great importance to all researchers and students interested in the fundamental nature and powers of the human mind. Together, the three volumes in the series will provide the most intensive and richly cross-disciplinary investigation of nativism ever undertaken. They point the way toward a synthesis of nativist work that promises to provide a new understanding of our minds and their place in the natural order
Chomsky, Noam A. (1980). Discussion of Putnam's comments. In Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini (ed.), Language and Learning: The Debate Between Jean Piaget and Noam Chomsky. Harvard University Press.   (Cited by 15 | Google)
Chomsky, Noam A. (1969). Linguistics and philosophy. In Sidney Hook (ed.), Language and Philosophy. New York University Press.   (Cited by 24 | Annotation | Google)
Chomsky, Noam A. (1975). On cognitive capacity. In Reflections on Language. Pantheon Books.   (Cited by 3 | Google)
Chomsky, Noam A. & Katz, Jerrold J. (1975). On innateness: A reply to Cooper. Philosophical Review 84 (January):70-87.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Chomsky, Noam A. (1967). Recent contributions to the theory of innate ideas. Synthese 17 (March):2-11.   (Cited by 25 | Google | More links)
Chomsky, Noam A. & Fodor, Jerry A. (1980). The inductivist fallacy. In Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini (ed.), Language and Learning: The Debate Between Jean Piaget and Noam Chomsky. Harvard University Press.   (Cited by 5 | Google)
Churchland, Patricia S. (1978). Fodor on language learning. Synthese 38 (May):149-59.   (Cited by 8 | Google | More links)
Clark, Andy (1993). Minimal rationalism. Mind 102 (408):587-610.   (Cited by 9 | Google | More links)
Collins, John M. (2003). Cowie on the poverty of stimulus. Synthese 136 (2):159-190.   (Cited by 6 | Google | More links)
Abstract:   My paper defends the use of the poverty of stimulus argument (POSA) for linguistic nativism against Cowie's (1999) counter-claim that it leaves empiricism untouched. I first present the linguistic POSA as arising from a reflection on the generality of the child's initial state in comparison with the specific complexity of its final state. I then show that Cowie misconstrues the POSA as a direct argument about the character of the pld. In this light, I first argue that the data Cowie marshals about the pld does not begin to suggest that the POSA is unsound. Second, through a discussion of the so-called `auxiliary inversion rule', I show, by way of diagnosis, that Cowie misunderstands both the methodology of current linguistics and the complexity of the data it is obliged to explain
Collins, John M. (2005). Nativism: In defense of a biological understanding. Philosophical Psychology 18 (2):157-177.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract: In recent years, a number of philosophers have argued against a biological understanding of the innate in favor of a narrowly psychological notion. On the other hand, Ariew ((1996). Innateness and canalization. Philosophy of Science, 63, S19-S27. (1999). Innateness is canalization: in defense of a developmental account of innateness. In V. Hardcastle (Ed.), Where biology meets psychology: Philosophical essays (pp. 117-138). Cambridge, MA: MIT.) has developed a novel substantial account of innateness based on developmental biology: canalization. The governing thought of this paper is that the notion of the innate, as it re-emerged with the work of Chomsky, is a general notion that applies equally to all biological traits. On this basis, the paper recommends canalization as a promising candidate account of the notion of the innate
Collins, John M. (2006). Proxytypes and linguistic nativism. Synthese 153 (1):69-104.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Prinz (Perceptual the Mind: Concepts and Their Perceptual Basis, MIT Press, 2002) presents a new species of concept empiricism, under which concepts are off-line long-term memory networks of representations that are ‘copies’ of perceptual representations – proxytypes. An apparent obstacle to any such empiricism is the prevailing nativism of generative linguistics. The paper critically assesses Prinz’s attempt to overcome this obstacle. The paper argues that, prima facie, proxytypes are as incapable of accounting for the structure of the linguistic mind as are the more traditional species of empiricism. This position is then confirmed by looking in detail at two suggestions (one derived from recent connectionist research) from Prinz of how certain aspects of syntactic structure might be accommodated by the proxytype theory. It is shown that the suggestions fail to come to terms with both the data and theory of contemporary linguistics
Cowie, Fiona (1998). Mad dog nativism. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 49 (2):227-252.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract: In his recent book, Concepts: Where Cognitive Science Went Wrong, Jerry Fodor retracts the radical concept-nativism he once defended. Yet that postion stood, virtually unchallenged, for more than twenty years. This neglect is puzzling, as Fodor's arguments against concepts being learnable from experience remain unanswered, and nativism has historically been taken very seriously as a response to empiricism's perceived shortcomings. In this paper, I urge that Fodorean nativism should indeed be rejected. I argue, however, that its deficiencies are not so obvious that they can simply be taken for granted. Fodor can counter extant objections by stressing two distinctions: between historicist and counterfactual semantic theories and between explaining reference and explaining concept-acquisition. But, I argue, this victory is pyrrhic. Reformulated as objections to his account qua theory of concept-acquisition, and not qua theory of reference, analogous difficulties are fatal to the Fodorean position
Cowie, Fiona (2001). On cussing in church: In defense of what's within? Mind and Language 16 (2):231-245.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Cowie, Fiona (1997). The logical problem of language acquisition. Synthese 111 (1):17-51.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Abstract:   Arguments from the Logical Problem of Language Acquisition suggest that since linguistic experience provides few negative data that would falsify overgeneral grammatical hypotheses, innate knowledge of the principles of Universal Grammar must constrain learners hypothesis formulation. Although this argument indicates a need for domain-specific constraints, it does not support their innateness. Learning from mostly positive data proceeds unproblematically in virtually all domains. Since not every domain can plausibly be accorded its own special faculty, the probative value of the argument in the linguistic case is dubious. In ignoring the holistic and probablistic nature of theory construction, the argument underestimates the extent to which positive data can supply negative evidence and hence overestimates the intractability of language learning in the absence of a dedicated faculty. While nativism about language remains compelling, the alleged Logical Problem contributes nothing to its plausibility and the emphasis on the Problem in the recent acquisition literature has been a mistake
Cowie, Fiona (1998). What's Within? Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 113 | Google | More links)
Crain, Stephen; Gualmini, Andrea & Pietroski, Paul M. (2005). Brass tacks in linguistic theory: Innate grammatical principles. In Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence & Stephen Stich (eds.), The Innate Mind: Structure and Contents. New York: Oxford University Press New York.   (Cited by 11 | Google | More links)
Abstract: In the normal course of events, children manifest linguistic competence equivalent to that of adults in just a few years. Children can produce and understand novel sentences, they can judge that certain strings of words are true or false, and so on. Yet experience appears to dramatically underdetermine the com- petence children so rapidly achieve, even given optimistic assumptions about children’s nonlinguistic capacities to extract information and form generalizations on the basis of statistical regularities in the input. These considerations underlie various (more specific) poverty of stimulus arguments for the innate specification of linguistic principles. But in our view, certain features of nativist arguments have not yet been fully appreciated. We focus here on three (related) kinds of poverty of stimulus argument, each of which has been supported by the findings of psycholinguistic investigations of child language
Crain, Stephen & Pietroski, Paul M. (2005). Innate Ideas. In James A. McGilvray (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Chomsky. Cambridge University Press.   (Google)
Abstract: We think this is Chomsky's view, and also the view he finds in certain historical figures who participated in debates about innate ideas. Chomsky's contribution to the traditional debate lies in (i) his articulation and defense of a detailed nativist program in linguistics, showing _how_ experience plays only a restricted role in a broadly rationalist account of the acquisition of linguistic knowledge, and (ii) the framework this program suggests, given its empirical success, for the more general study of human cognition. Linguistics -- where this includes not just the study of expressions and their properties, but also related work in psycholinguistics -- provides a case study of how to investigate _which aspects of_ human thought are due largely to human nature. Earlier chapters have addressed (i). We'll try to give the flavor of (ii) by discussing some historically important examples, and then by reviewing some recent discoveries, inspired by the Chomskian approach to human psychology, about the properties of linguistic expressions that have a direct bearing on logical reasoning.
Crain, Stephen & Pietroski, Paul M. (2002). Why language acquisition is a snap. Linguistic Review.   (Cited by 29 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Nativists inspired by Chomsky are apt to provide arguments with the following general form: languages exhibit interesting generalizations that are not suggested by casual (or even intensive) examination of what people actually say; correspondingly, adults (i.e., just about anyone above the age of four) know much more about language than they could plausibly have learned on the basis of their experience; so absent an alternative account of the relevant generalizations and speakers' (tacit) knowledge of them, one should conclude that there are substantive "universal" principles of human grammar and, as a result of human biology, children can only acquire languages that conform to these principles. According to Pullum and Scholz, linguists need not suppose that children are innately endowed with "specific contingent facts about natural languages." But Pullum and Scholz don't consider the kinds of facts that really impress nativists. Nor do they offer any plausible acquisition scenarios that would culminate in the acquisition of languages that exhibit the kinds of rich and interrelated generalizations that are exhibited by natural languages. As we stress, good poverty-of-stimulus arguments are based on specific principles - - confirmed by drawing on (negative and crosslinguistic) data unavailable to children -- that help explain a range of independently established linguistic phenomena. If subsequent psycholinguistic experiments show that very young children already know such principles, that strengthens the case for nativism; and if further investigation shows that children sometimes "try out" constructions that are unattested in the local language, but only if such constructions are attested in other human languages, then the case for nativism is made stronger still. We illustrate these points by considering an apparently disparate -- but upon closer inspection, interestingly related -- cluster of phenomena involving: negative polarity items, the interpretation of 'or', binding theory, and displays of Romance and Germanic constructions in child- English..
Cummins, Denise D.; Cummins, Robert E. & Poirier, Pierre (2003). Cognitive evolutionary psychology without representational nativism. Journal Of Experimental and Theoretical Artificial Intelligence 15 (2):143-159.   (Cited by 6 | Google | More links)
Abstract: A viable evolutionary cognitive psychology requires that specific cognitive capacities be (a) heritable and (b) ‘quasi-independent’ from other heritable traits. They must be heritable because there can be no selection for traits that are not. They must be quasi-independent from other heritable traits, since adaptive variations in a specific cognitive capacity could have no distinctive consequences for fitness if effecting those variations required widespread changes in other unrelated traits and capacities as well. These requirements would be satisfied by innate cognitive modules, as the dominant paradigm in evolutionary cognitive psychology assumes. However, those requirements would also be satisfied by heritable learning biases, perhaps in the form of architec- tural or chronotopic constraints, that operated to increase the canalization of specific cognitive capacities in the ancestral environment (Cummins and Cummins 1999). As an organism develops, cognitive capacities that are highly canalized as the result of heritable learning biases might result in an organism that is behaviourally quite similar to an organism whose innate modules come on line as the result of various environ- mental triggers. Taking this possibility seriously is increasingly important as the case against innate cognitive modules becomes increasingly strong
Cummins, Denise D. (1996). Evidence for the innateness of deontic reasoning. Mind and Language 11 (2):160-90.   (Cited by 54 | Google | More links)
de Rosa, Raffaella (2004). Locke's essay book I: The question-begging status of the anti-nativist arguments. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 69 (1):37-64.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
de Rosa, Raffaella (2000). On Fodor's claim that classical empiricists and rationalists agree on the innateness of ideas. Protosociology 14:240-269.   (Google)
Dwyer, Susan (2006). How good is the linguistic analogy? In Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence & Stephen P. Stich (eds.), The Innate Mind: Culture and Cognition.   (Cited by 11 | Google)
Falkenstein, Lorne (2004). Nativism and the nature of thought in Reid's account of our knowledge of the external world. In The Cambridge Companion to Thomas Reid. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.   (Google)
Fitzpatrick, Simon (online). Nativism, empiricism and ockham's razor.   (Google)
Fodor, Jerry A. (2001). Doing without what's within: Fiona Cowie's critique of nativism. Mind 110 (437):99-148.   (Cited by 33 | Google | More links)
Fodor, Jerry A. (1980). On the impossibility of acquiring 'more powerful' structures. In Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini (ed.), Language and Learning: The Debate Between Jean Piaget and Noam Chomsky. Harvard University Press.   (Cited by 16 | Google)
Fodor, Jerry A. (1980). Reply to Putnam. In Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini (ed.), Language and Learning: The Debate Between Jean Piaget and Noam Chomsky. Harvard University Press.   (Google)
Fodor, Jerry A. (1981). The present status of the innateness controversy. In Representations. MIT Press.   (Cited by 117 | Annotation | Google)
Fodor, Jerry A.; Bever, Thomas G. & Garrett, Mary (1974). The specificity of language skills. In The Psychology of Language. McGraw-Hill.   (Google)
Green, Christopher D. & Vervaeke, John (1997). But what have you done for us lately?: Some recent perspectives on linguistic nativism. In David Martel Johnson & Christina E. Erneling (eds.), The Future of the Cognitive Revolution, Chapter 11. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract: The problem with many contemporary criticisms of Chomsky and linguistic nativism is that they are based upon features of the theory that are no longer germane; aspects that have either been superseded by more adequate proposals, or that have been dropped altogether under the weight of contravening evidence. In this paper, rather than rehashing old debates that are voluminously documented elsewhere, we intend to focus on more recent developments. To this end, we have put a premium on references from the 1990s and the latter half of the 1980s. First, we will describe exactly what is now thought to be innate about language, and why it is thought to be innate rather than learned. Second, we will examine the evidence that many people take to be the greatest challenge to the nativist claim: ape language. Third, we will briefly consider how an innate language organ might have evolved. Fourth we will look at how an organism might communicate without benefit of the innate language structure proposed by Chomsky, and examine a number of cases in which this seems to be happening. Finally we will try to sum up our claims and characterize what we believe will be the most fruitful course of debate for the immediate future
Griffiths, Paul; Machery, Edouard & Linquist, Stefan (2009). The vernacular concept of innateness. Mind and Language 24 (5):605-630.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: The proposal that the concept of innateness expresses a 'folk biological' theory of the 'inner natures' of organisms was tested by examining the response of biologically naive participants to a series of realistic scenarios concerning the development of birdsong. Our results explain the intuitive appeal of existing philosophical analyses of the innateness concept. They simultaneously explain why these analyses are subject to compelling counterexamples. We argue that this explanation undermines the appeal of these analyses, whether understood as analyses of the vernacular concept or as explications of that concept for the purposes of science
Griffiths, Paul (2002). What is innateness? The Monist 85 (1):70-85.   (Cited by 33 | Google | More links)
Abstract: In behavioral ecology some authors regard the innateness concept as irretrievably confused whilst others take it to refer to adaptations. In cognitive psychology, however, whether traits are 'innate' is regarded as a significant question and is often the subject of heated debate. Several philosophers have tried to define innateness with the intention of making sense of its use in cognitive psychology. In contrast, I argue that the concept is irretrievably confused. The vernacular innateness concept represents a key aspect of 'folkbiology', namely, the explanatory strategy that psychologists and cognitive anthropologists have labeled 'folk essentialism'. Folk essentialism is inimical to Darwinism, and both Darwin and the founders of the modern synthesis struggled to overcome this way of thinking about living systems. Because the vernacular concept of innateness is part of folkbiology, attempts to define it more adequately are unlikely to succeed, making it preferable to introduce new, neutral terms for the various, related notions that are needed to understand cognitive development
Gross, Steven (2001). Review of What's Within? Nativism Reconsidered. Philosophical Review 110 (1):91-94.   (Google)
Abstract: Fiona Cowie’s _What’s Within_ consists of three parts. In the first, she examines the early modern rationalist- empiricist debate over nativism, isolating what she considers the two substantive “strands” (67)1 that truly separated them: whether there exist domain-specific learning mechanisms, and whether concept acquisition is amenable to naturalistic explanation. She then turns, in the book’s succeeding parts, to where things stand today with these issues. The second part argues that Jerry Fodor’s view of concepts is continuous with traditional nativism in that it precludes a naturalistic story of concept acquisition. Cowie objects, however, to Fodor’s path to this conclusion and thus sees no reason to endorse it. The third part assesses Chomskyan nativism as a contemporary instance of positing domain- specific learning mechanisms. Though she is highly critical of how “poverty of the stimulus” arguments and the like have been used to lend credence to stronger conclusions, she holds that such arguments do indeed support the nativist’s domain-specificity claim. Cowie’s reconsideration of nativism thus limits itself to concepts and language (a few exceptions aside: there are two brief forays into face recognition and a mention of pathogen response). The terrain she does cover, however, is vast; and Cowie’s illuminating discussions will stimulate anyone interested in the area. As I focus on a few large-scale qualms in what follows, let me mention in particular that much of what is of interest in Cowie’s book is to be found in her detailed consideration of specific arguments
Harman, Gilbert (1969). Linguistic competence and empiricism. In Sidney Hook (ed.), Language and Philosophy. New York University Press.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Horner, Jack K. (1976). Putnam's complaint. Auslegung 3 (June):166-173.   (Google)
Houng, Yu-Houng H. (1995). Learning and innate structure. In Mind and Cognition. Taipei: Inst Euro-Amer Stud.   (Google)
Hurford, Jim (ms). Functional innateness: Explaining the critical period for language acquisition.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Abstract: In recent years, several explanations have been offered for the critical period in language acquisition, itself, a priori a somewhat surprising phenomenon. Two such explanations are considered here. Both studies use computer simulations, but the factors they model are very different. Hurford (1991) simulates the phylogenetic evolution over hundreds of generations of a species in which the timing of life history traits is under genetic control. The period when an individual is most proficient at language acquisition is just such a life history trait, and is capable of adaptive evolution. Evolutionary simulations lead to a concentration of language acquisition proficiency in the period up to puberty, with a subsequent tailing off. Elman (1993) demonstrates `the advantages of starting small' in neural networks learning mini-languages with many of the complex interacting grammatical factors found in real languages. A neural network which starts mature, with a full adult `working memory' cannot acquire such complex grammatical competence, whereas a net whose attention span is initially limited and then grows with maturation can acquire the appropriate grammar. This explains, in adaptive terms, the existence of a period in which an organism's characteristics, relevant to the language learning task, change, increasing a certain capacity (`working memory') from an immature to an adult value. These accounts are complementary and mutually compatible. An evolutionary account is proposed, in which genetically controlled `working memory' size in relation to life history is the variable operated on by natural selection. This account promises to produce a more detailed explanation of the critical period, which can be related to a wider range of data, including the coincidence with puberty and the involvement of sentence processing in language acquisition The relationships between Elman's `working memory' and the distinct psychological concept of working memory are also explored
Johnson, Kent (2004). Gold's theorem and cognitive science. Philosophy of Science 70 (4):571-592.   (Cited by 6 | Google | More links)
Abstract: A variety of inaccurate claims about Gold's Theorem have appeared in the cognitive science literature. I begin by characterizing the logic of this theorem and its proof. I then examine several claims about Gold's Theorem, and I show why they are false. Finally, I assess the significance of Gold's Theorem for cognitive science
Karmiloff-Smith, Annette; Plunkett, Kim & Johnson, Mark H. (1998). What does it mean to claim that something is 'innate'? Response to Clark, Harris, Lightfoot and Samuels. Mind and Language 13 (4):588-597.   (Cited by 32 | Google | More links)
Katz, J. M. (1966). Innate ideas. In The Philosophy of Language. Harper & Row.   (Cited by 1 | Annotation | Google)
Katz, J. M. (2000). Realistic Rationalism. MIT Press.   (Cited by 42 | Google)
Abstract: Jerrold Katz develops a new philosophical position integrating realism and rationalism.
Kaye, Lawrence J. (1993). Are most of our concepts innate? Synthese 2 (2):187-217.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Abstract:   Fodor has argued that, because concept acquisition relies on the use of concepts already possessed by the learner, all concepts that cannot be definitionally reduced are innate. Since very few reductive definitions are available, it appears that most concepts are innate. After noting the reasons why we find such radical concept nativism implausible, I explicate Fodor's argument, showing that anyone who is committed to mentalistic explanation should take it seriously. Three attempts at avoiding the conclusion are examined and found to be unsuccessful. I then present an alternative way around Fodor's nativism; I maintain that concepts at a given level of explanation can be semantically primitive, yet at least partially acquired if some of the conditions at a lower level of explanation that are responsible for the concept's presence are themselves acquired
Keil, Frank (online). Nurturing nativism.   (Google)
Abstract: empiricist approaches to knowledge acquisition. I say " appears" because so often the debaters seem to be talking past each other, arguing about different things or misunderstanding each other in such basic ways that the debates can seem to an observer as incoherent. For these reasons there has been a powerful need for a systematic treatment of the different senses of nativism and empiricism that considers both their historical contexts and their current manifestations. Cowie's book offers such a treatment, one that goes far beyond prior attempts. It is a remarkably clear and insightful exposition and critique of nativist views from earliest writings to the most current debates. It helps all of us understand better what others are talking about when they don't subscribe to our brand of nativism or empiricism. It also reveals just how much theoretical and empirical work needs to be done before we can get a clear handle what is really the truth about the innateness of language, mathematics, folks psychology, and many other potential domains. Yet, despite these powerful virtues, the book also falls short on some key issues that seem necessary to laying an agenda for future empirical or theoretical work on nativism. I will tend to focus in this essay on those missing links, while also repeatedly stating that this book represents a major leap forward in making sense of what it means to say that some aspect of the mind is innate. Mystery and Modularity
Khalidi, Muhammad Ali (2001). Innateness and domain-specificity. Philosophical Studies 105 (2):191-210.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Abstract:   There is a widespread assumption in cognitive science that there is anintrinsic link between the phenomena of innateness and domainspecificity. Many authors seem to hold that given the properties ofthese two phenomena, it follows that innate mental states aredomain-specific, or that domain-specific states are innate. My aim inthis paper is to argue that there are no convincing grounds forasserting either claim. After introducing the notions of innateness anddomain specificity, I consider some possible arguments for theconclusion that innate cognitive states are domain-specific, or viceversa. Having shown that these arguments do not succeed, I attempt toexplicate what I take to be the connection between innateness and domainspecificity. I argue that it is simply easier to determine whether andto what extent domain-specific cognitive capacities are innate. That is,the relation between innateness and domain specificity is evidential orepistemic, rather than intrinsic
Khalidi, Muhammad Ali (2007). Innate cognitive capacities. Mind and Language 22 (1):92-115.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: This paper attempts to articulate a dispositional account of innateness that applies to cognitive capacities. After criticizing an alternative account of innateness proposed by Cowie (1999) and Samuels (2002), the dispositional account of innateness is explicated and defended against a number of objections. The dispositional account states that an innate cognitive capacity (output) is one that has a tendency to be triggered as a result of impoverished environmental conditions (input). Hence, the challenge is to demonstrate how the input can be compared to the output and shown to be relatively impoverished. I argue that there are robust methods of comparing input to output without measuring them quantitatively
Khalidi, Muhammad Ali (2002). Nature and nurture in cognition. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 53 (2):251-272.   (Cited by 10 | Google | More links)
Abstract: This paper advocates a dispositional account of innate cognitive capacities, which has an illustrious history from Plato to Chomsky. The ?triggering model? of innateness, first made explicit by Stich ([1975]), explicates the notion in terms of the relative informational content of the stimulus (input) and the competence (output). The advantage of this model of innateness is that it does not make a problematic reference to normal conditions and avoids relativizing innate traits to specific populations, as biological models of innateness are forced to do. Relativization can be avoided in the case of cognitive capacities precisely because informational content is involved. Even though one cannot measure output relative to input in a precise way, there are indirect and approximate ways of assessing the degree of innateness of a specific cognitive capacity. 1 Introduction 2 Two models of innateness 3 Discarding the disease model 4 Impoverishment and implasticity 5 Measuring poverty 6 Assessing innateness
Kitcher, Philip S. (1978). The nativist's dilemma. Philosophical Quarterly 28 (January):1-16.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Laurence, Stephen & Margolis, Eric (2003). Radical concept nativism. Cognition 86:25-55.   (Cited by 19 | Google | More links)
Lee-Lampshire, Wendy (1998). The foundation walls that are carried by the house: A critique of the poverty of stimulus thesis and a Wittgensteinian-Dennettian alternative. Journal of Mind and Behavior 19 (2):177-193.   (Google)
Machery, Eduoard; Griffiths, Paul & Linquist, Stefan (online). The vernacular concept of innateness.   (Google)
Abstract: ‘inner natures’ of organisms was tested by examining the response of biologically naive participants to a series of realistic scenarios concerning the development of birdsong. Our results explain the intuitive appeal of existing philosophical analyses of the innateness concept. They simultaneously explain why these analyses are subject to compelling counterexamples. We argue that this explanation undermines the appeal of these analyses, whether understood as analyses of the vernacular concept or as explications of that concept for the purposes of science
Macdonald, Cynthia (1990). What is empiricism?--, Nativism, naturalism, and evolutionary theory. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 81:81-92.   (Google)
Mameli, Matteo & Bateson, Patrick (2006). Innateness and the sciences. Biology and Philosophy 21 (2):155-188.   (Cited by 10 | Google | More links)
Abstract: The concept of innateness is a part of folk wisdom but is also used by biologists and cognitive scientists. This concept has a legitimate role to play in science only if the colloquial usage relates to a coherent body of evidence. We examine many different candidates for the post of scientific successor of the folk concept of innateness. We argue that none of these candidates is entirely satisfactory. Some of the candidates are more interesting and useful than others, but the interesting candidates are not equivalent to each other and the empirical and evidential relations between them are far from clear. Researchers have treated the various scientific notions that capture some aspect of the folk concept of innateness as equivalent to each other or at least as tracking properties that are strongly correlated with each other. But whether these correlations exist is an empirical issue. This empirical issue has not been thoroughly investigated because in the attempt to create a bridge between the folk view and their theories, researchers have often assumed that the properties must somehow cluster. Rather than making further attempts to import the folk concept of innateness into the sciences, efforts should now be made to focus on the empirical questions raised by the debates and pave the way to a better way of studying the development of living organisms. Such empirical questions must be answered before it can be decided whether a good scientific successor – in the form of a concept that refers to a collection of biologically significant properties that tend to co-occur – can be identified or whether the concept of innateness deserves no place in science
Mameli, Matteo & Papineau, David (2006). The new nativism: A commentary on Gary Marcus's The Birth of the Mind. Biology and Philosophy 21 (4):559-573.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Gary Marcus has written a very interesting book about mental development from a nativist perspective. For the general readership at which the book is largely aimed, it will be interesting because of its many informative examples of the development of cognitive structures and because of its illuminating explanations of ways in which genes can contribute to these developmental processes. However, the book is also interesting from a theoretical point of view. Marcus tries to make nativism compatible with the central arguments that anti-nativists use to attack nativism and with many recent discoveries about genetic activity and brain development. In so doing, he reconfigures the nativist position to a considerable extent
Marcus, Gary F. (2004). Birth of the Mind: How a Tiny Number of Genes Creates the Complexity of Human Thought. Basic Books.   (Cited by 84 | Google | More links)
Marcus, Gary F. (2005). What developmental biology can tell us about innateness. In Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence & Stephen Stich (eds.), The Innate Mind: Structure and Contents. New York: Oxford University Press New York.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Matthews, Robert J. (2001). Cowie's anti-nativism. Mind and Language 16 (2):215-230.   (Cited by 5 | Google | More links)
Matthews, Robert J. (2006). The case for linguistic nativism. In Robert J. Stainton (ed.), Contemporary Debates in Cognitive Science. Malden MA: Blackwell Publishing.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
McGilvray, James A. (2006). On the innateness of language. In Robert J. Stainton (ed.), Contemporary Debates in Cognitive Science. Malden MA: Blackwell Publishing.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
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Moutoussis, K.; Maier, Alexander; Zeki, Semir & Logothetis, Nikos K. (2005). Seeing invisible motion: Responses of area v5 neurons in the awake-behaving macaque. Soc. For Neurosci. Abstr 390 (11).   (Google)
Abstract: Moutoussis, K., A. Maier, S. Zeki and N. K. Logothetis: Seeing invisible motion: responses of area V5 neurons in the awake-behaving macaque. Soc. for Neurosci. Abstr. 390.11, 1 (11 2005) Abstract
Nichols, Shaun (2005). Innateness and moral psychology. In Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence & Stephen Stich (eds.), The Innate Mind: Structure and Contents. New York: Oxford University Press New York.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Although linguistic nativism has received the bulk of attention in contemporary innateness debates, moral nativism has perhaps an even deeper ancestry. If linguistic nativism is Cartesian, moral nativism is Platonic. Moral nativism has taken a backseat to linguistic nativism in contemporary discussions largely because Chomsky made a case for linguistic nativism characterized by unprecedented rigor. Hence it is not surprising that recent attempts to revive the thesis that we have innate moral knowledge have drawn on Chomsky’s framework. I’ll argue, however, that the recent attempts to use Chomsky-style arguments in support of innate moral knowledge are uniformly unconvincing. The central argument in the Chomskian arsenal, of course, is the Poverty of the Stimulus (POS) argument. In section 1, I will set out the basic form of the POS argument and the conclusions about domain specificity and innate propositional knowledge that are supposed to follow. In section 2, I’ll distinguish 3 hypotheses about innateness and morality: rule nativism, moral principle nativism, and moral judgment nativism. In sections 3-5 I’ll then consider each of these hypotheses in turn. I’ll argue that while there is some reason to favor rule nativism, the arguments that moral principles and moral judgment derive from innate moral knowledge don’t work. The capacity for moral judgment is better explained by appeal to innate affective systems rather than innate moral knowledge. In the final section, I’ll suggest that the role of such affective mechanisms in structuring the mind complicates the standard picture about poverty of the stimulus arguments and nativism. For the affective mechanisms that influence cognitive structures can make contributions that are neither domain general nor domain specific
Piattelli-Palmarini, Massimo (1989). Evolution, selection, and cognition: From learning to parameter setting in biology and in the study of language. Cognition 31:1-44.   (Cited by 112 | Annotation | Google)
Piattelli-Palmarini, Massimo (ed.) (1980). Language and Learning: The Debate Between Jean Piaget and Noam Chomsky. Harvard University Press.   (Cited by 181 | Annotation | Google)
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Putnam, Hilary (1980). Comments on Chomsky's and Fodor's replies. In Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini (ed.), Language and Learning: The Debate Between Jean Piaget and Noam Chomsky. Harvard University Press.   (Cited by 2 | Google)
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Putnam, Hilary (1980). What is innate and why. In Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini (ed.), Language and Learning: The Debate Between Jean Piaget and Noam Chomsky. Harvard University Press.   (Cited by 17 | Google)
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Abstract:   The philosophical innateness debate has long relied onpsychological evidence. For a century, however, a parallel debate hastaken place within neuroscience. In this paper, I consider theimplications of this neuroscience debate for the philosophicalinnateness debate. By combining the tools of theoretical neurobiologyand learning theory, I introduce the ``problem of development'' that alladaptive systems must solve, and suggest how responses to this problemcan demarcate a number of innateness proposals. From this perspective, Isuggest that the majority of natural systems are in fact innate. Lastly,I consider the acquistion strategies implemented by the human brain andsuggest that there is a rigorous way of characterizing these ``neuralconstructivist'' strategies as not being strongly innate. Alternatives toinnateness are thus both rigorously definable and empirically supported
Ramsey, William & Stich, Stephen P. (1990). Connectionism and three levels of nativism. Synthese 82 (2):177-205.   (Cited by 14 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Abstract:   Along with the increasing popularity of connectionist language models has come a number of provocative suggestions about the challenge these models present to Chomsky's arguments for nativism. The aim of this paper is to assess these claims. We begin by reconstructing Chomsky's argument from the poverty of the stimulus and arguing that it is best understood as three related arguments, with increasingly strong conclusions. Next, we provide a brief introduction to connectionism and give a quick survey of recent efforts to develop networks that model various aspects of human linguistic behavior. Finally, we explore the implications of this research for Chomsky's arguments. Our claim is that the relation between connectionism and Chomsky's views on innate knowledge is more complicated than many have assumed, and that even if these models enjoy considerable success the threat they pose for linguistic nativism is small
Rozin, Paul (2006). About 17 potential principles about links between the innate mind and culture: Preadaptation, predispositions, preferences, pathways, and domains. In Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence & Stephen P. Stich (eds.), The Innate Mind: Culture and Cognition.   (Google)
Rupert, Robert D. (2009). Innateness and the situated mind. In P. Robbins & M. Aydede (eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition. Cambridge University Press.   (Google)
Abstract: forthcoming in P. Robbins and M. Aydede (eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition (Cambridge UP)
Samuels, Richard (2004). Innateness in cognitive science. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 8 (3):136-141.   (Cited by 13 | Google | More links)
Abstract: has a more specific role to play in the development of Of course, the conclusion to draw is not that innateness innate cognitive structure. In particular, a common claim claims are trivially false or that they cannot be character-
Samet, Jerry & Flanagan, Owen J. (1989). Innate representations. In Stuart Silvers (ed.), Rerepresentation. Kluwer.   (Cited by 3 | Google)
Samuels, Richard (2002). Nativism in cognitive science. Mind and Language 17 (3):233-65.   (Cited by 36 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Though nativist hypotheses have played a pivotal role in the development of cognitive science, it remains exceedingly obscure how they—and the debates in which they figure—ought to be understood. The central aim of this paper is to provide an account which addresses this concern and in so doing: a) makes sense of the roles that nativist theorizing plays in cognitive science and, moreover, b), explains why it really matters to the contemporary study of cognition. I conclude by outlining a range of further implications of this account for current debate in cognitive science
Samet, Jerry (1986). Troubles with Fodor's nativism. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 10:575-594.   (Annotation | Google)
Samuels, Richard (1998). What brains won't tell us about the mind: A critique of the neurobiological argument against representational nativism. Mind and Language 13 (4):548-570.   (Cited by 12 | Google | More links)
Scholl, Brian J. (2005). Innateness and (bayesian) visual perception: Reconciling nativism and development. In Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence & Stephen Stich (eds.), The Innate Mind: Structure and Contents. New York: Oxford University Press New York.   (Cited by 7 | Google)
Schwartz, Robert (1995). Is mathematical competence innate? Philosophy of Science 62 (2):227-40.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Scholz, Barbara C. & Pullum, Geoffrey K. (2006). Irrational nativist exuberance. In Robert J. Stainton (ed.), Contemporary Debates in Cognitive Science. Malden MA: Blackwell Publishing.   (Cited by 6 | Google | More links)
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Abstract: This paper is principally devoted to comparing and contrasting poverty of stimulus arguments for innate cognitive apparatus in relation to language and in relation to folk psychology. These days one is no longer allowed to use the term ‘innate’ without saying what one means by it. So I will begin by saying what I mean by ‘innate’. Sections 2 and 3 will discuss language and theory of mind, respectively. Along the way, I will also briefly discuss other arguments for innate cognitive apparatus in these areas
Simpson, Tom; Carruthers, Peter; Laurence, Stephen & amp, amp (2005). Introduction: Nativism past and present. In Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence & Stephen Stich (eds.), The Innate Mind: Structure and Contents. New York: Oxford University Press New York.   (Cited by 34 | Google | More links)
Simpson, Tom (2005). Toward a reasonable nativism. In Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence & Stephen Stich (eds.), The Innate Mind: Structure and Contents. New York: Oxford University Press New York.   (Google)
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Stich, Stephen P. (1979). Between chomskian rationalism and Popperian empiricism. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 30 (December):329-47.   (Cited by 4 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Stich, Stephen P. (ed.) (1975). Innate Ideas. University of California Press.   (Cited by 21 | Google)
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Abstract: In P. Carruthers, S. Laurence, & S. Stich (Eds.). The innate mind: Structure and content. (pp. 305-337). New York: Oxford University Press
Viger, Christopher D. (2005). Learning to think: A response to the language of thought argument for innateness. Mind and Language 20 (3):313-25.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Jerry Fodor's argument for an innate language of thought continues to be a hurdle for researchers arguing that natural languages provide us with richer conceptual systems than our innate cognitive resources. I argue that because the logical/formal terms of natural languages are given a usetheory of meaning, unlike predicates, logical/formal terms might be learned without a mediating internal representation. In that case, our innate representational system might have less logical structure than a natural language, making it possible that we augment our innate representational system and improve our ability to think by learning a natural language
Wasow, Thomas (1973). The innateness hypothesis and grammatical relations. Synthese 26 (October):38-52.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Weinberg, Jonathan M. & Mallon, Ron (2006). Innateness as closed process invariance. Philosophy of Science 73:323–344.   (Google)
Abstract: Controversies over the innateness of cognitive processes, mechanisms, and structures play a persistent role in driving research in philosophy as well as the cognitive sciences, but the appropriate way to understand the category of the innate remains subject to dispute. One venerable approach in philosophy and cognitive science merely contrasts innate features with those that are learned. In fact, Jerry Fodor has recently suggested that this remains our best handle on innateness
Wendler, David (1996). Innateness as an explanatory concept. Biology and Philosophy 11 (1):89-116.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract:   Although many of the issues surrounding innateness have received a good deal of attention lately, the basic concept of token innateness has been largely ignored. In the present paper, I try to correct this imbalance by offering an account of the innateness of token traits. I begin by explaining Stephen Stich's account of token innateness and offering a counterexample to that account. I then clarify why the contemporary biological approaches to innateness will not be able to resolve the problems that beset Stich's account. From there, I develop an alternative understanding of the innateness of token traits, what I call a causal/explanatory account. The argument to be made is that token innateness is both a causal, and an explanatory, concept. After clarifying this understanding of innateness, and showing how it handles several counterexamples to other accounts, I end with some comments on what the causal/explanatory account suggests for our understanding of innateness in general

7.1a.1 Nativism in Cognitive Science, Misc