Rethinking Innateness asks the question, "What does it really mean to say that a behavior is innate?" The authors describe a new framework in which interactions, occurring at all levels, give rise to emergent forms and behaviors. These outcomes often may be highly constrained and universal, yet are not themselves directly contained in the genes in any domain-specific way.
One of the key contributions of Rethinking Innateness is a taxonomy of ways in which a behavior can be innate. These include constraints at the level of representation, architecture, and timing; typically, behaviors arise through the interaction of constraints at several of these levels. The ideas are explored through dynamic models inspired by a new kind of "developmental connectionism," a marriage of connectionist models and developmental neurobiology, forming a new theoretical framework for the study of behavioral development.
Taking a stand midway between Piaget's constructivism and Fodor's nativism, Annette Karmiloff-Smith offers an exciting new theory of developmental change that embraces both approaches, showing how both are necessary to a fundamental theory of human cognition. Karmiloff-Smith shifts the focus from what cognitive science can offer the study of development to what a developmental perspective can offer cognitive science, presenting a coherent portrait of the flexibility and creativity of the human mind as it develops from infancy to middle childhood.
1995 British Psychological Society Book Award
A Bradford Book. Learning, Development, and Conceptual Change series