Evolution, selection and cognition: From "learning" to parameter setting in biology and in the study of language

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163 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Most biologists and some cognitive scientists have independently reached the conclusion that there is no such thing as learning in the traditional "instructive" sense. This is, admittedly, a somewhat extreme thesis, but I defend it herein the light of data and theories jointly extracted from biology, especially from evolutionary theory and immunology, and from modern generative grammar. I also point out that the general demise of learning is uncontroversial in the biological sciences, while a similar consensus has not yet been reached in psychology and in linguistics at large. Since many arguments presently offered in defense of learning and in defense of "general intelligence" are often based on a distorted picture of human biological evolution, I devote some sections of this paper to a critique of "adaptationism," providing also a sketch of a better evolutionary theory (one based on "exaptation"). Moreover, since certain standard arguments presented today as "knock-down" in psychology, in linguistics and in artificial intelligence are a perfect replica of those once voiced.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-44
Number of pages44
JournalCognition
Volume31
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1989
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Cognition
biology
cognition
Language
evolutionary theory
Learning
Linguistics
psychology
language
Biological Evolution
Psychology
learning
linguistics
Biological Science Disciplines
Artificial Intelligence
artificial intelligence
Allergy and Immunology
Intelligence
grammar
intelligence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language

Cite this

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