Bayesian cognitive science, predictive brains, and the nativism debate

Synthese 195 (11):4817-4838 (2018)
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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 precisely and transparently about the kinds of mechanisms and representations underlying the acquisition of psychological traits without a commitment to an innate language of thought.



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