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  1. Organic Memory and the Perils of Perigenesis: The Helmholtz-Hering Debate.Lydia Patton - 2022 - In Charles T. Wolfe, Paolo Pecere & Antonio Clericuzio (eds.), Mechanism, Life and Mind in Modern Natural Philosophy. Dordrecht: Springer. pp. 345-362.
    This paper will focus on a famous nineteenth century debate over the physiology of perception between Ewald Hering and Hermann von Helmholtz. This debate is often explained as a contest between empiricism (Helmholtz) and nativism (Hering) about perception. I will argue that this is only part of the picture. Hering was a pioneer of Lamarckian explanations, arguing for an early version of the biogenetic law. Hering explains physical processes, including perception, in terms of ‘organic memory’ that is supported by ‘vital (...)
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  2. Culture and Cognitive Science.Andreas De Block & Daniel Kelly - 2022 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Human behavior and thought often exhibit a familiar pattern of within group similarity and between group difference. Many of these patterns are attributed to cultural differences. For much of the history of its investigation into behavior and thought, however, cognitive science has been disproportionately focused on uncovering and explaining the more universal features of human minds—or the universal features of minds in general. -/- This entry charts out the ways in which this has changed over recent decades. It sketches the (...)
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  3. A Cultural Species and its Cognitive Phenotypes: Implications for Philosophy.Joseph Henrich, Damián E. Blasi, Cameron M. Curtin, Helen Elizabeth Davis, Ze Hong, Daniel Kelly & Ivan Kroupin - forthcoming - Review of Philosophy and Psychology:1-38.
    After introducing the new field of cultural evolution, we review a growing body of empirical evidence suggesting that culture shapes what people attend to, perceive and remember as well as how they think, feel and reason. Focusing on perception, spatial navigation, mentalizing, thinking styles, reasoning (epistemic norms) and language, we discuss not only important variation in these domains, but emphasize that most researchers (including philosophers) and research participants are psychologically peculiar within a global and historical context. This rising tide of (...)
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  4. Deictic Codes, Demonstratives, and Reference: A Step Toward Solving the Grounding Problem.Athanassios Raftopoulos & Vincent C. Müller - 2002 - In Wayne D. Gray & Christian D. Schunn (eds.), Cogsci 2002, 24th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society. Lawrence Erlbaum. pp. 762-767.
    In this paper we address the issue of grounding for experiential concepts. Given that perceptual demonstratives are a basic form of such concepts, we examine ways of fixing the referents of such demonstratives. To avoid ‘encodingism’, that is, relating representations to representations, we postulate that the process of reference fixing must be bottom-up and nonconceptual, so that it can break the circle of conceptual content and touch the world. For that purpose, an appropriate causal relation between representations and the world (...)
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  5. In Defense of Nativism.Eric Margolis & Stephen Laurence - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 165 (2):693-718.
    This paper takes a fresh look at the nativism–empiricism debate, presenting and defending a nativist perspective on the mind. Empiricism is often taken to be the default view both in philosophy and in cognitive science. This paper argues, on the contrary, that there should be no presumption in favor of empiricism (or nativism), but that the existing evidence suggests that nativism is the most promising framework for the scientific study of the mind. Our case on behalf of nativism has four (...)
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  6. Innateness and Domain Specificity.Muhammad Ali Khalidi - 2001 - Philosophical Studies 105 (2):191-210.
    There is a widespread assumption in cognitive science that there is anintrinsic link between the phenomena of innateness and domain specificity. Many authors seem to hold that given the properties of these two phenomena, it follows that innate mental states are domain-specific, or that domain-specific states are innate. My aim in this paper is to argue that there are no convincing grounds for asserting either claim. After introducing the notions of innateness and domain specificity, I consider some possible arguments for (...)
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  7. Radical Concept Nativism.Stephen Laurence & Eric Margolis - 2002 - Cognition 86 (1):25-55.
    Radical concept nativism is the thesis that virtually all lexical concepts are innate. Notoriously endorsed by Jerry Fodor (1975, 1981), radical concept nativism has had few supporters. However, it has proven difficult to say exactly what’s wrong with Fodor’s argument. We show that previous responses are inadequate on a number of grounds. Chief among these is that they typically do not achieve sufficient distance from Fodor’s dialectic, and, as a result, they do not illuminate the central question of how new (...)
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  8. Nativism and the Theory of Content.David Pitt - 2000 - ProtoSociology 14:222-239.
    Externalism is the view that the intentional content of a mental state supervenes on its relations to objects in the extramental world. Nativism is the view that some of the innate states of the mind/brain have intentional content. I consider both “causal” and “nomic” versions of externalism, and argue that both are incompatible with nativism. I consider likely candidates for a compatibilist position – a nativism of “narrow” representational states, and a nativism of the contentless formal “vehicles” of representational states. (...)
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Nativism in Cognitive Science, Misc
  1. The Small Number System.Eric Margolis - 2020 - Philosophy of Science 87 (1):113-134.
    I argue that the human mind includes an innate domain-specific system for representing precise small numerical quantities. This theory contrasts with object-tracking theories and with domain-general theories that only make use of mental models. I argue that there is a good amount of evidence for innate representations of small numerical quantities and that such a domain-specific system has explanatory advantages when infants’ poor working memory is taken into account. I also show that the mental models approach requires previously unnoticed domain-specific (...)
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  2. What’s Wrong with the Minimal Conception of Innateness in Cognitive Science?J. Brendan Ritchie - 2020 - Synthese 199 (Suppl 1):159-176.
    One of the classic debates in cognitive science is between nativism and empiricism about the development of psychological capacities. In principle, the debate is empirical. However, in practice nativist hypotheses have also been challenged for relying on an ill-defined, or even unscientific, notion of innateness as that which is “not learned”. Here this minimal conception of innateness is defended on four fronts. First, it is argued that the minimal conception is crucial to understanding the nativism-empiricism debate, when properly construed; Second, (...)
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  3. Review of The Stuff of Thought by Steven Pinker (2008) (Review Revised 2019).Michael Starks - 2019 - In Talking Monkeys -- Philosophy, Psychology, Science, Religion and Politics on a Doomed Planet -- Articles and Reviews 2006-2019 Michael Starks 3rd Edition. Las Vegas, NV USA: Reality Press. pp. 254-267.
    I start with some famous comments by the philosopher (psychologist) Ludwig Wittgenstein because Pinker shares with most people (due to the default settings of our evolved innate psychology) certain prejudices about the functioning of the mind, and because Wittgenstein offers unique and profound insights into the workings of language, thought and reality (which he viewed as more or less coextensive) not found anywhere else. There is only reference to Wittgenstein in this volume, which is most unfortunate considering that he was (...)
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  4. Review of The Mind’s I by Douglas Hofstadter and Daniel Dennett (1981) (Review Revised 2019.Michael Starks - 2019 - In Talking Monkeys -- Philosophy, Psychology, Science, Religion and Politics on a Doomed Planet -- Articles and Reviews 2006-2019 Michael Starks 3rd Edition. Las Vegas, NV USA: Reality Press. pp. 223-229.
    A mixed bag dominated by H & D's reductionist nonsense. This is a follow-up to Hofstadter´s famous (or infamous as I would now say, considering its unrelenting nonsense) Godel, Escher, Bach (1980). Like its predecessor, it is concerned largely with the foundations of artificial intelligence, but it is composed mostly of stories, essays and extracts from a wide range of people, with a few essays by DH and DD and comments to all of the contributions by one or the other (...)
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  5. Review of Ludwig Wittgenstein by Edward Kanterian (2007)(Review Revised 2019).Michael Starks - 2019 - In The Logical Structure of Human Behavior. Las Vegas, NV USA: Reality Press. pp. 302-308.
    Overall, it is first rate with accurate, sensitive and penetrating accounts of his life and thought in roughly chronological order, but, inevitably (i.e., like everyone else) it fails, in my view, to place his work in proper context and gets some critical points wrong. It is not made clear that philosophy is armchair psychology and that W was a pioneer in what later became cognitive or evolutionary psychology. One would not surmise from this book that he laid out the foundations (...)
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  6. Scientism on Steroids: A Review of Freedom Evolves by Daniel Dennett (2003) (Review Revised 2019).Michael Starks - 2019 - In Suicidal Utopian Delusions in the 21st Century-- Philosophy, Human Nature and the Collapse of Civilization -- Articles and Reviews 2006-2019 4th Edition Michael Starks. Las Vegas, NV USA: Reality Press. pp. 200-216.
    ``People say again and again that philosophy doesn´t really progress, that we are still occupied with the same philosophical problems as were the Greeks. But the people who say this don´t understand why it has to be so. It is because our language has remained the same and keeps seducing us into asking the same questions. As long as there continues to be a verb ´to be´ that looks as if it functions in the same way as ´to eat and (...)
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  7. Power in Cultural Evolution and the Spread of Prosocial Norms.Nathan Cofnas - 2018 - Quarterly Review of Biology 93 (4):297–318.
    According to cultural evolutionary theory in the tradition of Boyd and Richerson, cultural evolution is driven by individuals' learning biases, natural selection, and random forces. Learning biases lead people to preferentially acquire cultural variants with certain contents or in certain contexts. Natural selection favors individuals or groups with fitness-promoting variants. Durham (1991) argued that Boyd and Richerson's approach is based on a "radical individualism" that fails to recognize that cultural variants are often "imposed" on people regardless of their individual decisions. (...)
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  8. Religious Authority and the Transmission of Abstract God Concepts.Nathan Cofnas - 2018 - Philosophical Psychology 31 (4):609-628.
    According to the Standard Model account of religion, religious concepts tend to conform to “minimally counterintuitive” schemas. Laypeople may, to varying degrees, verbally endorse the abstract doctrines taught by professional theologians. But, outside the Sunday school exam room, the implicit representations that tend to guide people’s everyday thinking, feeling, and behavior are about minimally counterintuitive entities. According to the Standard Model, these implicit representations are the essential thing to be explained by the cognitive science of religion. It is argued here (...)
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  9. The Social Construction of Real Human Kinds: Ron Mallon: The Construction of Human Kinds. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016, 250 Pp, $50.00 HB. [REVIEW]Jonathan Y. Tsou - 2017 - Metascience 26 (3):467-470.
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  10. Innateness as Genetic Adaptation: Lorenz Redivivus (and Revised).Nathan Cofnas - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (4):559-580.
    In 1965, Konrad Lorenz grounded the innate–acquired distinction in what he believed were the only two possible sources of information that can underlie adaptedness: phylogenetic and individual experience. Phylogenetic experience accumulates in the genome by the process of natural selection. Individual experience is acquired ontogenetically through interacting with the environment during the organism’s lifetime. According to Lorenz, the adaptive information underlying innate traits is stored in the genome. Lorenz erred in arguing that genetic adaptation is the only means of accumulating (...)
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  11. Jerry A. Fodor, Concepts: Where Cognitive Science Went Wrong. [REVIEW]S. Laurence & Eric Margolis - 1999 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 50 (3):487-491.
    Review of Jerry Fodor's book Concepts: Where Cognitive Science Went Wrong (Oxford University Press).
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  12. There Must Be Encapsulated Nonconceptual Content in Vision.Vincent C. Müller - 2005 - In Athanassios Raftpoulos (ed.), Cognitive penetrability of perception: Attention, action, attention and bottom-up constraints. Nova Science. pp. 157-170.
    In this paper I want to propose an argument to support Jerry Fodor’s thesis (Fodor 1983) that input systems are modular and thus informationally encapsulated. The argument starts with the suggestion that there is a “grounding problem” in perception, i. e. that there is a problem in explaining how perception that can yield a visual experience is possible, how sensation can become meaningful perception of something for the subject. Given that visual experience is actually possible, this invites a transcendental argument (...)
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  13. Nativism, Empiricism, and Ockham’s Razor.Simon Fitzpatrick - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (5):895-922.
    This paper discusses the role that appeals to theoretical simplicity have played in the debate between nativists and empiricists in cognitive science. Both sides have been keen to make use of such appeals in defence of their respective positions about the structure and ontogeny of the human mind. Focusing on the standard simplicity argument employed by empiricist-minded philosophers and cognitive scientists—what I call “the argument for minimal innateness”—I identify various problems with such arguments—in particular, the apparent arbitrariness of the relevant (...)
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  14. Concept Nativism and Neural Plasticity.Stephen Laurence & Eric Margolis - 2015 - In Eric Margolis & Stephen Laurence (eds.), The Conceptual Mind: New Directions in the Study of Concepts. MIT Press. pp. 117-147.
    One of the most important recent developments in the study of concepts has been the resurgence of interest in nativist accounts of the human conceptual system. However, many theorists suppose that a key feature of neural organization—the brain’s plasticity—undermines the nativist approach to concept acquisition. We argue that, on the contrary, not only does the brain’s plasticity fail to undermine concept nativism, but a detailed examination of the neurological evidence actually provides powerful support for concept nativism.
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  15. Nativist Models of the Mind.Michael Cuffaro - 2008 - Gnosis 9 (3):1-22.
    I give a defense of the Massive Modularity hypothesis: the view that the mind is composed of discrete, encapsulated, informationally isolated computational structures dedicated to particular problem domains. This view contrasts with Psychological Rationalism: the view that mental structures take the form of unencapsulated representational items, all available as inputs to one domain-general computational processor. I argue that although Psychological Rationalism is in principle able to overcome the `intractability objection', the view must borrow many features of a massively modular architecture (...)
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  16. Intrinsic Multiperspectivity: Conceptual Forms and the Functional Architecture of the Perceptual System.Rainer Mausfeld - 2011 - In Welsch Wolfgang, Singer Wolf & Wunder Andre (eds.), Interdisciplinary Anthropology. Springer. pp. 19--54.
    It is a characteristic feature of our mental make-up that the same perceptual input situation can simultaneously elicit conflicting mental perspectives. This ability pervades our perceptual and cognitive domains. Striking examples are the dual character of pictures in picture perception, pretend play, or the ability to employ metaphors and allegories. I argue that traditional approaches, beyond being inadequate on principle grounds, are theoretically ill equipped to deal with these achievements. I then outline a theoretical perspective that has emerged from a (...)
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  17. Learning Matters: The Role of Learning in Concept Acquisition.Eric Margolis & Stephen Laurence - 2011 - Mind and Language 26 (5):507-539.
    In LOT 2: The Language of Thought Revisited, Jerry Fodor argues that concept learning of any kind—even for complex concepts—is simply impossible. In order to avoid the conclusion that all concepts, primitive and complex, are innate, he argues that concept acquisition depends on purely noncognitive biological processes. In this paper, we show (1) that Fodor fails to establish that concept learning is impossible, (2) that his own biological account of concept acquisition is unworkable, and (3) that there are in fact (...)
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  18. Innateness.Steven Gross & Georges Rey - forthcoming - In Eric Margolis, Richard Samuels & Stephen Stich (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Cognitive Science. Oxford University Press.
    A survey of innateness in cognitive science, focusing on (1) what innateness might be, and (2) whether concepts might be innate.
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  19. The Resurrection of Innateness.James Maclaurin - 2002 - The Monist 85 (1):105-130.
    The notion of innateness is widely used, particularly in philosophy of mind, cognitive science and linguistics. Despite this popularity, it remains a controversial idea. This is partly because of the variety of ways in which it can be explicated and partly because it appears to embody the suggestion that we can determine the relative causal contributions of genes and environment in the development of biological individuals. As these causes are not independent, the claim is metaphysically suspect. This paper argues that (...)
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  20. Linguistic Determinism and the Innate Basis of Number.Stephen Laurence & Eric Margolis - 2007 - In Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence & Stephen P. Stich (eds.), The Innate Mind: Foundations and the Future.
    Strong nativist views about numerical concepts claim that human beings have at least some innate precise numerical representations. Weak nativist views claim only that humans, like other animals, possess an innate system for representing approximate numerical quantity. We present a new strong nativist model of the origins of numerical concepts and defend the strong nativist approach against recent cross-cultural studies that have been interpreted to show that precise numerical concepts are dependent on language and that they are restricted to speakers (...)
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  21. The Poverty of the Stimulus Argument.Stephen Laurence & Eric Margolis - 2001 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 52 (2):217-276.
    Noam Chomsky's Poverty of the Stimulus Argument is one of the most famous and controversial arguments in the study of language and the mind. Though widely endorsed by linguists, the argument has met with much resistance in philosophy. Unfortunately, philosophical critics have often failed to fully appreciate the power of the argument. In this paper, we provide a systematic presentation of the Poverty of the Stimulus Argument, clarifying its structure, content, and evidential base. We defend the argument against a variety (...)
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  22. How to Acquire a Concept.Eric Margolis - 1998 - Mind and Language 13 (3):347-369.
    In this paper, I develop a novel account of concept acquisition for an atomistic theory of concepts. Conceptual atomism is rarely explored in cognitive science because of the feeling that atomistic treatments of concepts are inherently nativistic. My model illustrates, on the contrary, that atomism does not preclude the learning of a concept.
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