Tabula rasa? Not so much.

Steven Pinker. Photo Credit: Justin Ide/Harvard Staff Photographer

Are we the products of heredity or the environment? Of nature or nurture?

Human beings are not simply automatons going through the biologically-determined motions of life; they're not born blank slates, either, just waiting to be inscribed by culture and history.

So says Steven Pinker, Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology. In his article, Why Nature & Nurture Won't Go Away, Pinker goes on to argue that the obvious compromise—"it's both"—also misses the mark. We can't simply say that all human attributes and behaviors can be understood as some combination of intrinsic structures and environmental influence, and leave it at that.

Instead of providing easy answers, Prof. Pinker examines how the nature/nurture debate has been framed in fields as divergent as behavioral genetics and postmodern philosophy, and considers why the dispute persists.

You can find a complete listing of Prof. Pinker's works in DASH here.