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  1. Metaphysics of concepts: In defense of the abilitist approach.Ilya Bulov - 2023 - Theoria 89 (5):625-639.
    Abilitism is an approach to the metaphysics of concepts according to which each concept consists of a managing cognitive ability coordinating other abilities (cognitive and non-cognitive) and a set of subordinate abilities associated with this managing ability. As I argue here, if we accept the abilitist approach, we can efficiently solve such puzzles in the metaphysics of concepts as the partial possession problem, the concept pluralism problem, etc. However, there are some possible objections to abilitism, concerning the abilitist explanation of (...)
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  • Toddlers Selectively Help Fair Agents.Luca Surian & Laura Franchin - 2017 - Frontiers in Psychology 8.
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  • 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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  • Making sense of domain specificity.Eric Margolis & Stephen Laurence - 2023 - Cognition 240 (C):105583.
    The notion of domain specificity plays a central role in some of the most important debates in cognitive science. Yet, despite the widespread reliance on domain specificity in recent theorizing in cognitive science, this notion remains elusive. Critics have claimed that the notion of domain specificity can't bear the theoretical weight that has been put on it and that it should be abandoned. Even its most steadfast proponents have highlighted puzzles and tensions that arise once one tries to go beyond (...)
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  • Infants, animals, and the origins of number.Eric Margolis - 2017 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 40.
    Where do human numerical abilities come from? This article is a commentary on Leibovich et al.’s “From 'sense of number' to 'sense of magnitude' —The role of continuous magnitudes in numerical cognition”. Leibovich et al. argue against nativist views of numerical development by noting limitations in newborns’ vision and limitations regarding newborns’ ability to individuate objects. I argue that these considerations do not undermine competing nativist views and that Leibovich et al.'s model itself presupposes that infant learners have numerical representations.
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  • Innate Mind Need Not Be Within.Riin Kõiv - 2021 - Acta Analytica 36:101-121.
    It is a widely accepted thesis in the cognitive sciences and in naturalistic philosophy of mind that the contents of at least some mental representations are innate. A question that has popped up in discussions concerning innate mental representations is this. Are externalist theories of mental content applicable to the content of innate representations? Views on the matter vary and sometimes conflict. To date, there has been no comprehensive assessment of the relationship between content externalism and content innateness. The aim (...)
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  • Can massive modularity explain human intelligence? Information control problem and implications for cognitive architecture.Linus Ta-Lun Huang - 2021 - Synthese 198 (9):8043-8072.
    A fundamental task for any prospective cognitive architecture is information control: routing information to the relevant mechanisms to support a variety of tasks. Jerry Fodor has argued that the Massive Modularity Hypothesis cannot account for flexible information control due to its architectural commitments and its reliance on heuristic information processing. I argue instead that the real trouble lies in its commitment to nativism—recent massive modularity models, despite incorporating mechanisms for learning and self-organization, still cannot learn to control information flexibly enough. (...)
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  • Normative Inference Tickets.Jen Foster & Jonathan Ichikawa - 2023 - Episteme:1-27.
    We argue that stereotypes associated with concepts like he-said–she-said, conspiracy theory, sexual harassment, and those expressed by paradigmatic slurs provide “normative inference tickets”: conceptual permissions to automatic, largely unreflective normative conclusions. These “mental shortcuts” are underwritten by associated stereotypes. Because stereotypes admit of exceptions, normative inference tickets are highly flexible and productive, but also liable to create serious epistemic and moral harms. Epistemically, many are unreliable, yielding false beliefs which resist counterexample; morally, many perpetuate bigotry and oppression. Still, some normative (...)
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  • 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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  • Empiricism, syntax, and ontogeny.Gabe Dupre - 2021 - Philosophical Psychology 34 (7):1011-1046.
    Generative grammarians typically advocate for a rationalist understanding of language acquisition, according to which the structure of a developed language faculty reflects innate guidance rather than environmental influence. This proposal is developed in developmental linguistics by triggering models of language acquisition. Opposing this tradition, various theorists have advocated for empiricist views of language acquisition, according to which the structure of a developed linguistic competence reflects the linguistic environment in which this competence developed. On this picture, linguistic development is accounted for (...)
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  • Bayesian cognitive science, predictive brains, and the nativism debate.Matteo Colombo - 2017 - Synthese:1-22.
    The rise of Bayesianism in cognitive science promises to shape the debate between nativists and empiricists into more productive forms—or so have claimed several philosophers and cognitive scientists. The present paper explicates this claim, distinguishing different ways of understanding it. After clarifying what is at stake in the controversy between nativists and empiricists, and what is involved in current Bayesian cognitive science, the paper argues that Bayesianism offers not a vindication of either nativism or empiricism, but one way to talk (...)
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  • Bayesian cognitive science, predictive brains, and the nativism debate.Matteo Colombo - 2018 - Synthese 195 (11):4817-4838.
    The rise of Bayesianism in cognitive science promises to shape the debate between nativists and empiricists into more productive forms—or so have claimed several philosophers and cognitive scientists. The present paper explicates this claim, distinguishing different ways of understanding it. After clarifying what is at stake in the controversy between nativists and empiricists, and what is involved in current Bayesian cognitive science, the paper argues that Bayesianism offers not a vindication of either nativism or empiricism, but one way to talk (...)
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  • The Logical Problem and the Theoretician's Dilemma.Hayley Clatterbuck - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 97 (2):322-350.
    The theory-theory of human uniqueness posits that the capacity to theorize, in a way strongly analogous to theorizing in scientific practice, was a key innovation in the hominid lineage and was responsible for many of our unique cognitive traits. One of the central arguments that its proponents have used to support the claim that animals are not theorists, the logical problem, bears strong similarities to Hempel's theoretician's dilemma, which purports to show that theories are unnecessary. This similarity threatens to undermine (...)
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  • Contemporary Concept Nativism: Some Methodological Remarks.Ilya Y. Bulov - 2019 - Russian Journal of Philosophical Sciences 62 (7):96-109.
    The innate knowledge problem is a classical problem in philosophy, which has been known since the classical antiquity. Plato in his dialogues Meno and Phaedo formulated the doctrine of innate ideas and proposed an early version of the poverty of the stimulus argument, which is the most frequently used argument in innate knowledge debates. In the history of philosophy there was also an opposite view. This approach is often associated with J. Locke’s philosophy. Locke thought that all our knowledge about (...)
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  • Infer with care: A critique of the argument from animals.Rachael L. Brown - 2019 - Mind and Language 34 (1):21-36.
    Non‐human animal evidence is frequently invoked in debates in cognitive science. Here, I critically assess one use of such evidence in the form of the “argument from animals,” a prominent positive argument for nativism, which roughly states that non‐human cognitive development is largely nativist, and thus human cognitive development is most likely largely nativist too. I offer a number of reasons to reject this argument, and in doing so derive some important broader lessons concerning the appropriate role of non‐human animal (...)
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  • Recognizing why vision is inferential.J. Brendan Ritchie - 2022 - Synthese 200 (1):1-27.
    A theoretical pillars of vision science in the information-processing tradition is that perception involves unconscious inference. The classic support for this claim is that, since retinal inputs underdetermine their distal causes, visual perception must be the conclusion of a process that starts with premises representing both the sensory input and previous knowledge about the visible world. Focus on this “argument from underdetermination” gives the impression that, if it fails, there is little reason to think that visual processing involves unconscious inference. (...)
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  • A new rationalist account of the development of false-belief understanding.Francesco Antilici - 2023 - Philosophical Studies 180 (9):2847-2870.
    Rationalist accounts of the development of folk-psychology maintain that the acquisition of this capacity is aided by special-purpose mechanisms rich in innate structure. Rationalists have typically maintained that false-belief understanding (FBU) emerges very early on, before the age of two. To explain why young children nonetheless fail the false-belief task, rationalists have suggested that they may have troubles expressing their FBU. Here I do two things. First, I argue that extant proposals about what might prevent children from expressing their FBU (...)
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  • Linguistic Competence and New Empiricism in Philosophy and Science.Vanja Subotić - 2023 - Dissertation, University of Belgrade
    The topic of this dissertation is the nature of linguistic competence, the capacity to understand and produce sentences of natural language. I defend the empiricist account of linguistic competence embedded in the connectionist cognitive science. This strand of cognitive science has been opposed to the traditional symbolic cognitive science, coupled with transformational-generative grammar, which was committed to nativism due to the view that human cognition, including language capacity, should be construed in terms of symbolic representations and hardwired rules. Similarly, linguistic (...)
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  • Moral Lessons from Psychology: Contemporary Themes in Psychological Research and their relevance for Ethical Theory.Henrik Ahlenius - 2020 - Stockholm: Stockholm University.
    The thesis investigates the implications for moral philosophy of research in psychology. In addition to an introduction and concluding remarks, the thesis consists of four chapters, each exploring various more specific challenges or inputs to moral philosophy from cognitive, social, personality, developmental, and evolutionary psychology. Chapter 1 explores and clarifies the issue of whether or not morality is innate. The chapter’s general conclusion is that evolution has equipped us with a basic suite of emotions that shape our moral judgments in (...)
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  • Neurodemocracy: Self-Organization of the Embodied Mind.Linus Huang - 2017 - Dissertation, University of Sydney
    This thesis contributes to a better conceptual understanding of how self-organized control works. I begin by analyzing the control problem and its solution space. I argue that the two prominent solutions offered by classical cognitive science (centralized control with rich commands, e.g., the Fodorian central systems) and embodied cognitive science (distributed control with simple commands, such as the subsumption architecture by Rodney Brooks) are merely two positions in a two-dimensional solution space. I outline two alternative positions: one is distributed control (...)
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