New thinking, innateness and inherited representation

Nicholas Shea

Abstract

The New Thinking contained in this volume rejects an Evolutionary Psychology that is committed to innate domain-specific psychological mechanisms: gene-based adaptations that are unlearnt, developmentally fixed and culturally universal. But the New Thinking does not simply deny the importance of innate psychological traits. The problem runs deeper: the concept of innateness is not suited to distinguishing between the New Thinking and Evolutionary Psychology. That points to a more serious problem with the concept of innateness as it is applied to human psychological phenotypes. This paper argues that the features of recent human evolution highlighted by the New Thinking imply that the concept of inherited representation, set out here, is a better tool for theorizing about human cognitive evolution.

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