It is an old and venerable idea in philosophy that morality is built into us, and this nativist view has seen a resurgence of late. Indeed, the prevailing systematic account of how we acquire complex moral representations is a nativist view inspired by arguments in Chomskyan linguistics. In this article, I review the leading argument for moral nativism-the poverty of the moral stimulus. I defend a systematic empiricist alternative that draws on the resources of statistical learning. Such an empiricist account, I argue, promises to explain much of the complexity of people's moral and other normative attitudes.
- nativism, empiricism, poverty of the stimulus argument, statistical learning, the act/allow distinction, moral psychology
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