Are there any current day Philosphers who still follow the Tabula rasa approach in the nature versus nurture argument and how do they explain the heritability of traits?


I don't think there is any philosopher who takes a strict tabula rasa position. Naturally, there is a broad spectrum of opinion about the degree of influence attributed to nature versus that of nurture, but I don't think you will find anyone arguing for anything like a pure nurture position that would dismiss the heritability of some traits.


This particular philosophical question is one that has very much devolved to the sciences, specifically to the biologists, psychologists, anthropologists, and linguists.

Where does human knowledge come from, is it learned from experience or is it inherited from ancestors? The philosophical tradition has laid out the definitions and issues, but the answers have all come from experimentation and observation. And there is no one answer: there are contexts where one is the obvious answer, some where the other is obvious, some where it is altogether mixed and some where it depends on much finer distinctions. The question now is not which one is the answer but which is more important under very particular circumstances.

We tend to think as obvious that biological form is inviolate and behavior is infinitely malleable. But experimentation has show that biological development can be altered by environment and that behavior can be inherited (and can be hard to change). We all -know- that 5+7=12, and it always was and always will be, but then really at some point in our lives we had to learn it (and frankly sometimes there is doubt depending on your numeracy).

Experiment/observation methods include: comparisons of identical twins, study of infant behavior, study of behavioral dysfunction from lesion/trauma, universal characteristics of languages. The meta-'of course' is that some of these experimental questions get answered definitively, but some create more questions, which parts of a phenomenon are determined by nature and which by nurture.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.