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Irretrievably confused? Innateness in explanatory context

Birch, Jonathan (2009) Irretrievably confused? Innateness in explanatory context. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 40 (4). pp. 296-301. ISSN 1369-8486

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.shpsc.2009.09.007

Abstract

The hunt for a biologically respectable definition for the folk concept of innateness is still on. I defend Ariew’s Canalization account of innateness against the criticisms of Griffiths and Machery, but highlight the remaining flaws in this proposal. I develop a new analysis based on the notion of environmental induction. A trait is innate, I argue, iff it is not environmentally induced. I augment this definition with a novel analysis of environmental induction that draws on the contrastive nature of causal explanation. Whether a trait is environmentally induced, I argue, depends on a context sensitive contrast class. I argue that a “Noninduction” analysis of innateness allows the concept an explanatory role in biology. I show how my proposal co-opts the successes of the Canalization account whilst avoiding its pitfalls, and I account for why biologists associate a range of disparate properties with innateness.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/13698...
Additional Information: © 2009 Elsevier
Divisions: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Sets: Departments > Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Date Deposited: 07 May 2015 09:44
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2020 03:59
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/61820

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