Cognitive Science | Seminar in Cognitive Science
Q700 | 1016 | Weinberg

TR, 4:00-5:15pm, SY 137
TOPIC: Innateness in Psychology
Above section meets with PHIL P570

There has been much controversy in the last few years about the status
of innateness claims in philosophy and psychology.  The focus of this
course will be to gain a deeper understanding of what this debate is,
or is not, about.  What is innateness?  What are the nativists really
claiming, and what are the empiricists really denying?  Are there
significant differences across different theorists as to what is at
stake here? To answer these questions we will attend to what role
innateness claims play in the various arguments that have been put
forward on its behalf (e.g., Plato, Descartes, Kant, Chomsky, Fodor)
and in opposition (e.g., Hume, Quine, Piaget). We will thereupon
examine closely Fiona Cowie's recent book _What's Within_, in which
she advances some very strong conceptual claims against nativism.

Depending on time and student interest, some other topics we may
examine:  innateness and epistemology (e.g., Carruthers' _Human
Knowledge & Human Nature_); domain-specificity, evolution, and
modularity (e.g., the papers in _The Adapted Mind_));  connectionism &
innateness (e.g., Elman et al., _Rethinking Innateness_).

Students will have several options for coursework, including one big
term paper; or a series of smaller papers throughout the semester; and
optional student presentations.