Philosophy | Philosophical Psychology
P570 | 3609 | Weinberg


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 significantdifferences 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.