Explore BrainMass

Nature vs. Nurture/Knowledge Acquisition

Compare the views of B.F. Skinner and Noam Chomsky on the role of nature versus nurture in knowledge acquisition.Which of these was more accurate? Why?

Please use in text citation with quotes and give scholarly references for each.

Solution Preview

(1) Compare the views of B.F. Skinner and Noam Chomsky on the role of nature versus nurture in knowledge acquisition.

Prompting the nature vs nurture debate, questions were raised concerning the influence of innate functions (i.e., the brain) vs, the environmental influence (parenting, culture, etc.) on the acquisition of learned behavior in children. Bates (n .d.) writes that the debates focused primarily on the various sciences that study language from two perspectives. The first position was "nativism" and is predated to Plato and Kant, and was later associated with Chomsky, who developed a theory of grammar, according to Bates; that is supposed to be universal properties underlying the grammar of universal language. Bates suggests that, this classical version of how knowledge was acquired held that language and knowledge was innately learned (i.e. mentally). Later research highlighted the nature view in emphasizing the human brain as being predisposed in various linguistic ways, and thus people rely on general intellectual capacities; and on other people to develop language (Van Hulle, Goldsmith, Lemery, 2004). For instance, Van Hulle et al point to earliest studies to emphasize the importance of genetic factors associated with children' communicative performance that are related to the IQ of the child's biological mother, rather than with the IQ of the adoptive mother (Plomin, DeFries, & Fulker, 1988 as cited in Van Hulle et al., 2004).

The second view was the empiricist view defined as "the belief that knowledge originates in the environment and through the senses, which can be traced to Aristotle" (Bates, n. d.). Skinner held this view introduced with his behaviorist principles that held that an individual largely learns language through his or ...

Solution Summary

This solution discusses the nature versus nurture debate relative to knowledge acquisition.