Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Language, Cognition, and Human Nature$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Steven Pinker

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199328741

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199328741.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 15 December 2019

So How Does the Mind Work?

So How Does the Mind Work?

(p.269) 10 So How Does the Mind Work?
Language, Cognition, and Human Nature

Steven Pinker

Oxford University Press

The theory that the human mind is a naturally selected system of organs of computation was defended in How the Mind Works. Jerry Fodor claims that ‘the mind doesn’t work that way’ because (1) Turing Machines cannot duplicate humans’ ability to perform abduction; (2) though a massively modular system could succeed at abduction, such a system is implausible on other grounds; and (3) evolution adds nothing to our understanding of the mind. This chapter shows that these arguments are flawed. The claim that the mind is a computational system is different from the claim Fodor attacks. Fodor identifies abduction with the cumulative accomplishments of the scientific community over millennia. This is very different from the accomplishments of human common sense, so the supposed gap between human cognition and computational models may be illusory. And, the claim about biological specialization, as seen in organ systems, is distinct from Fodor’s own notion of encapsulated modules.

Keywords:   evolution, evolutionary psychology, modularity, innateness, nature-nurture debate, cognition, cognitive science, Jerry Fodor

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .