Portions of this paper were presented at the Conference for Epistemiology and Evolutionary Psychology, Rutgers Unversity, April, 1995. I thank Nick Chater and David Over for their invaluable comments on an earlier draft of this paper.
Evidence for the Innateness of Deontic Reasoning
Version of Record online: 5 MAY 2007
Mind & Language
Volume 11, Issue 2, pages 160–190, June 1996
How to Cite
CUMMINS, D. D. (1996), Evidence for the Innateness of Deontic Reasoning. Mind & Language, 11: 160–190. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-0017.1996.tb00039.x
- Issue online: 5 MAY 2007
- Version of Record online: 5 MAY 2007
Abstract: When reasoning about deontic rules (what one may, should, or should not do in a given set of circumstances), reasoners adopt a violation-detection strategy, a strategy they do not adopt when reasoning about indicative rules (descriptions of purported state of affairs). I argue that this indicative-deontic distinction constitutes a primitive in the cognitive architecture. To support this claim, I show that this distinction emerges early in development, is observed regardless of the cultural background of the reasoner, and can be selectively disrupted at the neurological level. I also argue that this distinction emerged as a result of selective pressure favouring the evolution of reasoning strategies that determine survival within dominance hierarchies.