Evolutionary psychology and the massive modularity hypothesis

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 49 (4):575-602 (1998)
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Abstract

In recent years evolutionary psychologists have developed and defended the Massive Modularity Hypothesis, which maintains that our cognitive architecture—including the part that subserves ‘central processing’ —is largely or perhaps even entirely composed of innate, domain-specific computational mechanisms or ‘modules’. In this paper I argue for two claims. First, I show that the two main arguments that evolutionary psychologists have offered for this general architectural thesis fail to provide us with any reason to prefer it to a competing picture of the mind which I call the Library Model of Cognition. Second, I argue that this alternative model is compatible with the central theoretical and methodological commitments of evolutionary psychology. Thus I argue that, at present, the endorsement of the Massive Modularity Hypothesis by evolutionary psychologists is both unwarranted and unmotivated.

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Richard Samuels
Ohio State University