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Journal Article

Fodor on Cognition, Modularity, and Adaptationism

Samir Okasha
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 70, No. 1 (January 2003), pp. 68-88
DOI: 10.1086/367870
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/367870
Page Count: 21
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Fodor on Cognition, Modularity, and Adaptationism
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Abstract

Abstract This paper critically examines Jerry Fodor’s latest attacks on evolutionary psychology. Contra Leda Cosmides and John Tooby, Fodor argues (i) there is no reason to think that human cognition is a Darwinian adaptation in the first place, and (ii) there is no valid inference from adaptationism about the mind to massive modularity. However, Fodor maintains (iii) that there is a valid inference in the converse direction, from modularity to adaptationism, but (iv) that the language module is an exception to the validity of this inference. I explore Fodor’s arguments for each of these claims, and the interrelations between them. I argue that Fodor is incorrect on point (i), correct on point (ii), partially correct on point (iii), and incorrect on point (iv). Overall, his critique fails to show that adopting a broadly Darwinian approach to cognition is intellectually indefensible.

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