Conceived This Way: Innateness Defended

Philosophers' Imprint 18 (2018)
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We propose a novel account of the distinction between innate and acquired biological traits: biological traits are innate to the degree that they are caused by factors intrinsic to the organism at the time of its origin; they are acquired to the degree that they are caused by factors extrinsic to the organism. This account borrows from recent work on causation in order to make rigorous the notion of quantitative contributions to traits by different factors in development. We avoid the pitfalls of previous accounts and argue that the distinction between innate and acquired traits is scientifically useful. We therefore address not only previous accounts of innateness but also skeptics about any account. The two are linked, in that a better account of innateness also enables us better to address the skeptics.



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Author Profiles

Gualtiero Piccinini
University of Missouri, St. Louis
Robert Northcott
Birkbeck, University of London

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On Virtue Ethics.Rosalind Hursthouse - 1999 - Oxford University Press.
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Causality.Judea Pearl - 2000 - Cambridge University Press.
Natural Goodness.Philippa Foot - 2001 - Oxford University Press.

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