Biology and Philosophy 21 (2):155-188 (2006)

Authors
Matteo Mameli
King's College London
Abstract
The concept of innateness is a part of folk wisdom but is also used by biologists and cognitive scientists. This concept has a legitimate role to play in science only if the colloquial usage relates to a coherent body of evidence. We examine many different candidates for the post of scientific successor of the folk concept of innateness. We argue that none of these candidates is entirely satisfactory. Some of the candidates are more interesting and useful than others, but the interesting candidates are not equivalent to each other and the empirical and evidential relations between them are far from clear. Researchers have treated the various scientific notions that capture some aspect of the folk concept of innateness as equivalent to each other or at least as tracking properties that are strongly correlated with each other. But whether these correlations exist is an empirical issue. This empirical issue has not been thoroughly investigated because in the attempt to create a bridge between the folk view and their theories, researchers have often assumed that the properties must somehow cluster. Rather than making further attempts to import the folk concept of innateness into the sciences, efforts should now be made to focus on the empirical questions raised by the debates and pave the way to a better way of studying the development of living organisms. Such empirical questions must be answered before it can be decided whether a good scientific successor – in the form of a concept that refers to a collection of biologically significant properties that tend to co-occur – can be identified or whether the concept of innateness deserves no place in science.
Keywords Adaptation  Biology  Evolution  Gene  Innateness  Natural Selection  Science
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10539-005-5144-0
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 71,436
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Aspects of the Theory of Syntax.Noam Chomsky - 1965 - Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.

View all 78 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Scientific Reasoning Is Material Inference: Combining Confirmation, Discovery, and Explanation.Ingo Brigandt - 2010 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 24 (1):31-43.

View all 56 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Innateness as an Explanatory Concept.David Wendler - 1996 - Biology and Philosophy 11 (1):89-116.
Irretrievably Confused? Innateness in Explanatory Context.Jonathan Birch - 2009 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 40 (4):296-301.
Innateness.Steven Gross & Georges Rey - forthcoming - In Eric Margolis, Richard Samuels & Stephen Stich (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Cognitive Science. Oxford University Press.
What is Innateness?Paul E. Griffiths - 2001 - The Monist 85 (1):70-85.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2009-01-28

Total views
637 ( #12,907 of 2,520,359 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
18 ( #46,314 of 2,520,359 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes