The author would like to thank Tim Bayne, David Chalmers, Marian Dawkins, Cecelia Heyes, Russell Powell, Lizzie Schechter and Tobias Uller for discussion and comments on earlier drafts; audiences in Oxford and at the University of Nottingham for helpful discussion; and two anonymous referees for comments on a previous draft. This work was supported by: the Wellcome Trust (grant number 086041), the Oxford Martin School and the John Fell OUP Research Fund.
Genetic Representation Explains the Cluster of Innateness-Related Properties
Article first published online: 22 AUG 2012
© 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Mind & Language
Volume 27, Issue 4, pages 466–493, September 2012
How to Cite
SHEA, N. (2012), Genetic Representation Explains the Cluster of Innateness-Related Properties. Mind & Language, 27: 466–493. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-0017.2012.01452.x
- Issue published online: 22 AUG 2012
- Article first published online: 22 AUG 2012
The concept of innateness is used to make inferences between various better-understood properties, like developmental canalization, evolutionary adaptation, heritability, species-typicality, and so on (‘innateness-related properties’). This article uses a recently-developed account of the representational content carried by inheritance systems like the genome to explain why innateness-related properties cluster together, especially in non-human organisms. Although inferences between innateness-related properties are deductively invalid, and lead to false conclusions in many actual cases, where some aspect of a phenotypic trait develops in reliance on a genetic representation it will tend, better than chance, to have many of the innateness-related properties. The account also shows why inferences between innateness-related properties sometimes fail and argues that such inferences are especially misleading when applied to human psychology and behaviour because human psychological development is especially reliant on non-genetic inherited representations.