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The Innate MindStructure and Contents$
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Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence, and Stephen Stich

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195179675

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195179675.001.0001

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Resolving the Debate on Innate Ideas

Resolving the Debate on Innate Ideas

Learnability Constraints and the Evolved Interpenetration of Motivational and Conceptual Functions*

(p.305) 18 Resolving the Debate on Innate Ideas
The Innate Mind

John Tooby

H. Clark Barrett

Oxford University Press

This chapter addresses the question of why many cognitive and behavioural scientists still fail to recognize the truth of nativism despite the power of poverty of stimulus arguments. It argues that this is primarily because the domains in which these arguments have hitherto been applied, for example, language or naive physics, are all ones in which the knowledge that children acquire is objectively present in their environment. Thus, the possibility always remains open that children could somehow be acquiring this knowledge from the environment through general learning. In the case of motivation, however, this last bastion of resistance is unavailable, since desires do not serve to represent information that is already present in the environment. The closest thing to a knockdown argument for nativism can therefore be developed in respect of innate motivational systems.

Keywords:   nativism, power of poverty, motivation, innateness, innate motivational systems

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