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What's Within? – Nativism Reconsidered | Oxford Scholarship Online
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What's Within?: Nativism Reconsidered

Fiona Cowie


This book reconsiders the influential nativist position toward the mind. Nativists assert that some concepts, beliefs, or capacities are innate or inborn: “native” to the mind rather than acquired. The author argues that this view is mistaken, demonstrating that nativism is an unstable amalgam of two quite different—and probably inconsistent—theses about the mind. Unlike empiricists, who postulate domain-neutral learning strategies, nativists insist that some learning tasks require special kinds of skills, and that these skills are hard-wired into our brains at birth. This “faculties hypothesi ... More

Keywords: nativism, nativists, learning strategies, faculties hypothesis, Noam Chomsky, language acquisition, Jerry Fodor, concept acquisition, human mind

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2003 Print ISBN-13: 9780195159783
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195159783.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Fiona Cowie, author
California Institute of Technology