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The Innate Mind, Volume 3Foundations and the Future$
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Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence, and Stephen Stich

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195332834

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195332834.001.0001

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Is Innateness a Confused Concept?

Is Innateness a Confused Concept?

2 Is Innateness a Confused Concept?
The Innate Mind, Volume 3

Richard Samuels (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that cognitive science's concept of innateness is not confused. It begins by setting out the Argument for Confusion, which seeks to show that the concept of innateness is confused because it confounds several independent properties. This argument is shown to be inconclusive by highlighting two ways in which innateness might be associated with a range of distinct properties without confounding them. Although this perhaps shows that the Argument for Confusion is inconclusive, it leaves an important challenge unaddressed: how to explain in detail the relationship between the various properties associated with innateness and innateness itself. It is shown that the concept of innateness, at least as it figures in cognitive science, is not a confused one. This leaves a residual puzzle: if the concept of innateness is not confused, then why are debates over innateness in cognitive science often accompanied by confusion? The chapter concludes with a brief discussion of this matter.

Keywords:   Argument for Confusion, nativism, innateness concept, cognitive science, innateness

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