Evolved Psychological Mechanisms and Content‐Specificity

Anthropology of Consciousness 5 (4):19-23 (1994)
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Abstract

In The Adapted Mind (1992), Cosmides and Tooby argue for the thesis that biological evolution endowed the human mind with a system of content‐specific computational mechanisms designed to solve long‐standing adaptive problems humans encountered as hunter‐gatherers, and not just a generalized "capacity for culture" or all‐purpose "learning capacity". I analyze three types of arguments they offer: historical arguments for the rise of content‐Specific psychology; programmatic arguments for the aims, theory, concepts, and methods of their evolutionary approach; and experimental arguments for the content‐dependence of reasoning. Their arguments stand or fall on the claim that functionally specialized adaptations must be richly structured in a content‐specific way.

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