What's Within: Nativism Reconsidered [Book Review]

European Journal of Philosophy 9:242-247 (2008)
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Fiona Cowie's book What's Within: Nativism Reconsidered offers an important critical assessment of nativist views of the mind. She provides an account of what nativism consists in, and discusses prominent nativist views of concept acquisition and language acquisition. In the latter case, she also offers an empiricist alternative to Chomskyan nativist accounts, and claims that the main arguments for an innate language faculty—one that embodies Universal Grammar—don't work. We provide an overview of her position, focusing mostly on her views about natural language, and argue that she has underestimated the power the poverty of the stimulus argument and consequently has underestimated the advantages of nativist models of language acquisition.

Author Profiles

Stephen Laurence
University of Sheffield
Eric Margolis
University of British Columbia


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