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Fiona Cowie
Last affiliation: California Institute of Technology
  1. What’s Within? Nativism Reconsidered.Fiona Cowie - 1998 - Oxford University Press USA.
    This powerfully iconoclastic book reconsiders the influential nativist position toward the mind. Nativists assert that some concepts, beliefs, or capacities are innate or inborn: "native" to the mind rather than acquired. Fiona Cowie argues that this view is mistaken, demonstrating that nativism is an unstable amalgam of two quite different--and probably inconsistent--theses about the mind. Unlike empiricists, who postulate domain-neutral learning strategies, nativists insist that some learning tasks require special kinds of skills, and that these skills are hard-wired into our (...)
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  2.  80
    Innateness and Language.Fiona Cowie - 2008
  3. The Mind is Not (Just) a System of Modules Shaped (Just) by Natural Selection.James F. Woodward & Fiona Cowie - 2004 - In Christopher Hitchcock (ed.), Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Science. Malden MA: Blackwell. pp. 312-34.
  4.  91
    Us, Them and It: Modules, Genes, Environments and Evolution.Fiona Cowie - 2008 - Mind and Language 23 (3):284–292.
    The Architecture of Mind is an ambitious and informative work, surveying an impressive range of empirical literature and arguing that the mind is massively modular. However, it suffers from two major theoretical flaws. First, Carruthers’ concept of a module is weak, so much so that it robs his thesis of massive modularity of any real substance. Second, his conception of how the mind’s modules evolved ignores the role of niche construction and cultural evolution to its detriment.
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    Why Isn't Stich an Eliminativist?Fiona Cowie - 2009 - In Dominic Murphy & Michael A. Bishop (eds.), Stich and His Critics. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 14--74.
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  6. The Logical Problem of Language Acquisition.Fiona Cowie - 1997 - Synthese 111 (1):17-51.
    Arguments from the Logical Problem of Language Acquisition suggest that since linguistic experience provides few negative data that would falsify overgeneral grammatical hypotheses, innate knowledge of the principles of Universal Grammar must constrain learners hypothesis formulation. Although this argument indicates a need for domain-specific constraints, it does not support their innateness. Learning from mostly positive data proceeds unproblematically in virtually all domains. Since not every domain can plausibly be accorded its own special faculty, the probative value of the argument in (...)
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  7.  58
    Human Knowledge and Human Nature: A New Introduction to an Ancient Debate.Fiona Cowie & Peter Carruthers - 1996 - Philosophical Review 105 (4):530.
    Based on lectures developed for an audience ignorant of analytic thought, Carruthers’s clearly and elegantly written book introduces many central issues in modern philosophy, including knowledge, justification, truth, the a priori, Platonism, learning, the evolution of mind, explanation. Its organizing principle being the rationalist-empiricist controversy from the 1700s onwards, it also offers an intriguing reinterpretation of that debate and mounts a lively defense of a hybrid position that eschews the a priori while allowing the existence of innate mental structure. Carruthers’s (...)
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  8. Symposium on J.-L. Dessalles’s Why We Talk : Precis by J.-L. Dessalles, Commentaries by E. Machery, F. Cowie, and J. Alexander, Replies by J.-L. Dessalles. [REVIEW]Edouard Machery, Jean-Louis Dessalles, Fiona Cowie & Jason Alexander - 2010 - Biology and Philosophy 25 (5):851-901.
    This symposium discusses J.-L. Dessalles's account of the evolution of language, which was presented in Why we Talk (OUP 2007).
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  9. Mad Dog Nativism.Fiona Cowie - 1998 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 49 (2):227-252.
    In his recent book, Concepts: Where Cognitive Science Went Wrong, Jerry Fodor retracts the radical concept-nativism he once defended. Yet that postion stood, virtually unchallenged, for more than twenty years. This neglect is puzzling, as Fodor's arguments against concepts being learnable from experience remain unanswered, and nativism has historically been taken very seriously as a response to empiricism's perceived shortcomings. In this paper, I urge that Fodorean nativism should indeed be rejected. I argue, however, that its deficiencies are not so (...)
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  10.  76
    On Cussing in Church: In Defence of What’s Within?Fiona Cowie - 2001 - Mind and Language 16 (2):231-245.
  11. Innate Ideas.Fiona Cowie - 1994 - Dissertation, Princeton University
    Recent years have seen a renewal of the perennial debate concerning innate ideas: Noam Chomsky has argued that much of our knowledge of natural languages is innate; Jerry Fodor has defended the innateness of most concepts. ;Part One concerns the historical controversy over nativism. On the interpretation there developed, nativists have defended two distinct theses. One, based on arguments from the poverty of the stimulus, is a psychological theory postulating special-purpose learning mechanisms. The other, deriving from arguments entailing that learning (...)
     
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  12.  26
    By the Waters of Babel: Jean-Louis Dessalles' Why We Talk.Fiona Cowie - 2010 - Biology and Philosophy 25 (5):880-888.
    Why We Talk is a complex, ambitious, original, thought-provoking, and sometimes frustrating book. In it, Jean-Louis Dessalles argues that the critical spur to the development of human language—language’s true biological function—was political. It wasn’t political in any of the senses hitherto floated in the literature, though: language didn’t evolve because it fostered group cohesion or cooperation, or facilitated mind-reading or manipulation. Instead, language originally served more or less the same function as ritualized displays of aggression and submission in many social (...)
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  13. Innateness, Philosophical Issues About.Fiona Cowie - 2003 - In L. Nadel (ed.), Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science. Nature Publishing Group.
     
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  14.  21
    Symposium on J.-L. Dessalles’s Why We Talk : Precis by J.-L. Dessalles, Commentaries by E. Machery, F. Cowie, and J. Alexander, Replies by J.-L. Dessalles.Jean-Louis Dessalles, Edouard Machery, Fiona Cowie & Jason Mckenzie Alexander - 2010 - Biology and Philosophy 25 (5):851-901.
    This symposium discusses J.-L. Dessalles's account of the evolution of language, which was presented in Why we Talk.
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  15.  28
    Hurford's Partial Vindication of Classical Empiricism.Fiona Cowie - 2003 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 26 (3):289-290.
    Hurford's discussion also vindicates the classical empiricist program in semantics. The idea that PREDICATE(x) is the logical form of the sensory representations encoded via the dorsal and ventral streams validates empiricists' insistence on the psychological primacy of sense data, which have the same form. In addition to knowing the logical form of our primitive representations, however, we need accounts of (1) their contents and (2) how more complex thoughts are derived from them. Ideally, our semantic vocabulary would both reflect the (...)
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  16.  3
    On Cussing in Church: In Defence Of.Fiona Cowie - 2001 - Mind and Language 16 (2):231-245.
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