The Innate Mind - Vol. 3

The Innate Mind - Vol. 3

The Innate Mind - Vol. 3

The Innate Mind - Vol. 3


This is the first volume of a projected three-volume set on the subject of innateness. The extent to which the mind is innate is one of the central questions in the human sciences, with important implications for many surrounding debates. By bringing together the top nativist scholars in philosophy, psychology, and allied disciplines these volumes provide a comprehensive assessment of nativist thought and a definitive reference point for future nativist inquiry.

The Innate Mind: Structure and Content, concerns the fundamental architecture of the mind, addressing such question as: What capacities, processes, representations, biases, and connections are innate? How do these innate elements feed into a story about the development of our mature cognitive capacities, and which of them are shared with other members of the animal kingdom? The editors have provided an introduction giving some of the background to debates about innateness and introducing each of the subsequent essays, as well as a consolidated bibliography that will be a valuable reference resource for all those interested in this area. The volume will be of great importance to all researchers and students interested in the fundamental nature and powers of the human mind.

Together, the three volumes in the series will provide the most intensive and richly cross-disciplinary investigation of nativism ever undertaken. They point the way toward a synthesis of nativist work that promises to provide a new understanding of our minds and their place in the natural order.


This is the last in a series of three volumes on the innate mind. (The others are The Innate Mind: Structure and Contents (2005) and The Innate Mind, Vol. 2: Culture and Cognition (2006), also published by Oxford University Press.) It represents the main products of the final year of the three-year interdisciplinary project Innateness and the Structure of the Mind, funded by the United Kingdom’s Arts and Humanities Research Board, with support from the Hang Seng Center for Cognitive Studies at the University of Sheffield, the Evolution and Higher Cognition Research Group at Rutgers University, and the Cognitive Studies Group at the University of Maryland. We are grateful to all these bodies for their support.

During the academic year 2003–2004, four preparatory workshops were held, one at Rutgers, one at Maryland, and two at Sheffield; and the concluding conference was held in Sheffield in July 2004. We have selected the best, most original, most cohesive essays from those presented at these venues, and also have commissioned chapters from some whose research became known to us in the course of the year. Drafts of these chapters were all displayed on a closed project Web site for the other participants to read and take account of. The result, we believe, is an original, cutting-edge volume that will shape research in this area for many years to come.

We are grateful to all those who participated in the preparatory workshops and concluding conference, whose comments and contributions to discussions have helped to make this volume better. Special thanks go to those who presented at a meeting during the year but who for one reason or another don’t have a chapter included in this volume (some had a chapter included in volume 2 instead). They are: Clark Barrett, Fiona Cowie, Gregory Currie, Daniel Fessler, Juan Carlos Gomez, Joshua Greene, Claire Hughes, Deborah Kelemen, Gary Marcus, David Papineau, Georges Rey, Peter Richerson, Tom Simpson, Karin Stromswold, Luca Surian, and Denis Walsh.

Finally, we would like to thank Tom Simpson, the project research associate, for his work in helping to organize the workshops and concluding conference, and for ensuring that they ran so smoothly. We would also like to thank Jane-Suilin Lavelle for helping to prepare the volume for press, and Simon Fitzpatrick for the construction of the index.

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