Innateness as an explanatory concept

Biology and Philosophy 11 (1):89-116 (1996)
Although many of the issues surrounding innateness have received a good deal of attention lately, the basic concept of token innateness has been largely ignored. In the present paper, I try to correct this imbalance by offering an account of the innateness of token traits. I begin by explaining Stephen Stich's account of token innateness and offering a counterexample to that account. I then clarify why the contemporary biological approaches to innateness will not be able to resolve the problems that beset Stich's account. From there, I develop an alternative understanding of the innateness of token traits, what I call a causal/explanatory account. The argument to be made is that token innateness is both a causal, and an explanatory, concept. After clarifying this understanding of innateness, and showing how it handles several counterexamples to other accounts, I end with some comments on what the causal/explanatory account suggests for our understanding of innateness in general.
Keywords Biology  Explanation  Innateness  Science  Stich, S
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DOI 10.1007/BF00127473
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References found in this work BETA
Stephen P. Stich (ed.) (1975). Innate Ideas. University of California Press.
Fred Gifford (1990). Genetic Traits. Biology and Philosophy 5 (3):327-347.

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