Innateness, canalization, and the modality-independence of language: A reply to Griffiths and Machery

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Griffiths and Machery (Citation2008) argue that innateness is a “folk biological” notion, which, as such, has no useful reconstruction in contemporary biology. If this is so, not only is it wrong to identify the vernacular notion with the precise theoretical concept of canalization, but worse, it would appear that many of the putative scientific claims for particular competences and capacities being innate are simply misplaced. The present paper challenges the core substantive claim of Griffiths and Machery's position, namely, that innateness understood on canalization lines as environment-independent development (somehow and to some degree) is a confused, outmoded notion. It will be contended that the modality-independence of language offers a prima facie case against Griffiths and Machery's general position.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-206
Number of pages12
JournalPhilosophical Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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