Topic: Cognition & Epistemology
Innateness and the Situated Mind
By Robert Rupert
Many advocates of situated approaches to the study of cognition (e.g., Griffiths and Stotz, 2000; Thelen and Smith, 1994) explicitly take exception to cognitive science’s pronounced nativist turn.
Other proponents of situated models seek to mitigate strong nativist claims, by, for example, finding ways to acknowledge innate contributions to cognitive processing while at the same time downplaying those contributions (Wilson, 2004, Chapter 3).
Still others leave implicit their apparent opposition to nativism: they emphasize the environment’s contribution to cognition so strongly as to suggest antinativist views but do not take up the issue explicitly (Clark, 1997; Varela, Thompson, and Rosch, 1991). Thus, situated theorists have reached something approximating an antinativist consensus.
In this chapter, I argue that they should not embrace the antinativist view so readily. To this end, I divide the situated approach into two species, extended and embedded views of cognition, arguing that each version of the situated view admits of a plausible nativist interpretation with respect to at least some important cognitive phenomena.
In contrast, I also argue for the nonnativist interpretation of certain cognitive phenomena; nevertheless, these antinativist recommendations come heavily hedged -- in some cases, at the expense of a robust reading of the situated program or one of its subdivisions.
Forthcoming in P. Robbins and M. Aydede (eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition (Cambridge UP)
Source: Online Papers in Philosophy