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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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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 26 November 2020

The Complexity of Cognition

The Complexity of Cognition

Tractability Arguments for Massive Modularity*

(p.107) 7 The Complexity of Cognition
The Innate Mind

Richard Samuels (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the scope and limits of the tractability argument. It argues for two claims. First, that when explored with appropriate care and attention, it becomes clear that the argument provides no good reason to prefer massive modularity to the more traditional rationalist alternative. Second, while it is denied that tractability considerations support massive modularity per se, this does not mean that they show nothing whatsoever. Careful analysis of tractability considerations suggests a range of characteristics that any plausible version of psychological rationalism is likely to possess. The chapter proceeds as follows: Section 1 outlines and clarifies the general form of the tractability argument. Section 2 explains how massive modularity is supposed to resolve intractability worries. Sections 3 to 7 highlight the deficiencies of the main extant arguments for claiming that nonmodular mechanisms are intractable. Section 8 concludes by sketching some of the general characteristics that a plausible rationalist alternative to massive modularity — one capable of subserving tractable cognitive processes — is likely to possess.

Keywords:   tractability, massive modularity, psychological rationalism, cognitive processes, nonmodular mechanisms

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