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Volume 14, 2000

Folk Psychology, Mental Concepts and the Ascription of Attitudes

Raffaella De Rosa
Pages 240-269

On Fodor’s Claim that Classical Empiricists and Rationalists Agree on the Innateness of Ideas

Jerry Fodor has argued that Classical Empiricists are as committed to the innateness of (at least some) ideas as Classical Rationalists. His argument, however, is proven inconclusive by an ambiguity surrounding “innate ideas”. Textual evidence for this ambiguity is provided and the “Dispositional Nativism” that, prima facie, makes Empiricist and Rationalist views similar dissolves into two distinct views about the nature of both the mind’s and the environment’s contribution in the process of concept acquisition. Once the Empiricist’s Dispositional Nativism is not conflated with the Rationalist’s, it becomes evident that the Empiricist can accept the premises of Fodor’s argument without accepting his conclusion and, hence, remain unmoved in her conviction that no ideas are innate.

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