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Empiricist Intuitions Arise from an Ontological Dissonance: Reply to Carruthers

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People are systematically biased against the possibility that ideas are innate. Berent (2020) traces these attitudes to an ontological dissonance, arising from the collision of two fundamental principles of human cognition -- dualism and essentialism. Carruthers (this issue) challenges this hypothesis and attributes our empiricist bias primarily to mindreading intuitions. Here, I counter Carruthers' concerns and show that mindreading cannot be the sole source of the empiricist bias. Specifically, mindreading fails to explain why our empiricist intuitions depend on the perceived immateriality of ideas. The ontological dissonance hypothesis accounts for these facts. Because essentialism requires innate traits to be material, and because, per dualism, ideas are immaterial, people conclude that ideas cannot be innate.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115, USA., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: January 1, 2020

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