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An Empiricist Solution to the Radical Concept Nativism Puzzle


An Empiricist Solution to the Radical Concept Nativism Puzzle

AriaAmjad, Khashayar (2021) An Empiricist Solution to the Radical Concept Nativism Puzzle. [Graduate Projects (Non-thesis)] (Unpublished)

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Jerry Fodor (1975) argued for a view according to which virtually all concepts are innate, that is no concept can be learned. This so-called “Radical Concept Nativism Puzzle” has engendered a lot of controversies. A number of solutions have been proposed to it. A significant one belongs to Stephen Laurence and Eric Margolis. They try to solve the puzzle from a nativist perspective, although a non-Fodorian non-radical one. Another proposal is Jesse Prinz’s Proxytype Theory of Concepts which is wholeheartedly empiricist. The two views share several features with a general inclination towards empiricism. I shall argue that an empiricist solution is plausibly available to Fodor’s puzzle. Moreover, it is agreed by Fodor and others that any proposal for a theory of concepts needs to account for, inter alia, the Publicity of concepts, viz., their capacity of being shared by different individuals, and by one individual at different times. I will show the extent to which each of the two solutions would successfully satisfy this desideratum. With regard to the concept of color, I shall discuss how they should account for each of these two extreme cases: the congenitally blind people and the tetrachromat (the one who enjoys super color vision.) A contrast between these cases will show how an altered perceptual capacity, i.e., sight, can affect one’s conceptual system. Finally, I will use the evidence from the studies made on “Feral children”, the ones who have grown up in isolation, to argue against nativism.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Philosophy
Item Type:Graduate Projects (Non-thesis)
Authors:AriaAmjad, Khashayar
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Date:27 May 2021
  • Groupe de Recherche Interuniversitaire sur la Normativité
ID Code:988481
Deposited By: Khashayar AriaAmjad
Deposited On:15 Jun 2021 14:25
Last Modified:15 Jun 2021 14:25
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