Chapter

The Poverty of the Stimulus

Fiona Cowie

in What's Within?

Published in print January 2003 | ISBN: 9780195159783
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849529 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195159783.003.0008

Series: Philosophy of Mind Series

The Poverty of the Stimulus

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Chomsky had been able to look into how various theses—representationalism, biological boundedness, domain specificity, innateness and universal grammar—may be used in explaining the acquisition and mastery of language. Chomsky was able to not only establish the inaccuracy of behaviorism through defending representationalism, but also initiate the development of a more mentalistic conception of both the learning of language and linguistic competence. Because other aspects of Chomsky's nativism are independent of each other, the falsity of behaviorism may be associated with the truth of several other theories. To address this and other issues regarding Chomskyan nativism, the author presents three nonbehaviorist alternatives: 1) Weak nativism which merges innateness with domain specificity; 2) Enlightened empiricism which rejects innateness and accepts domain specificity; and 3) Putnamian empiricism which accepts innateness and rejects domain specificity.

Keywords: Chomsky; Chomskyan nativism; representationalism; language learning; linguistic competence; Weak nativism; Enlightened empiricism; Putnamian empiricism; domain specificity; innateness

Chapter.  13253 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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