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Are we products of nature or nurture? Show more Show less
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There is a longstanding debate about what factors contribute to forming each human being's identity. Some argue that genes singlehandedly determine our identity, while others claim that our environment does so. Although psychologists regard some combination of these two factors (i.e. nature and nurture) as what shapes us, there is little consensus on the issue.

Nature is more important than nurture Show more Show less

Genetics determine who you are long before your experiences.
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Nature is more important than nurture because the way we learn is innate

Noam Chomsky determined that linguistic ability is predetermined by the genetic "initial state" of the Language Acquisition Device. This shows that nature influences our traits and behaviors more than nurture does.

Context

People are a summation of their habits, temperaments, and experiences. However, where do these things that define us come from? Psychology has long been debating whether they stem from our genes or our environment. Settling the debate will expand our currently limited understanding of human development.

The Argument

The Language Acquisition Device (LAD) is how babies learn to speak. No matter how language develops with experience, there is a genetic predisposition for language acquisition. As Noam Chomsky suggests, "A careful look at the interpretation of expressions reveals very quickly that from the earliest stages, the child knows vastly more than experience has provided".[1] Language and how it develops is all determined by the child's initial language state. Genetics predetermines the LAD and it grows much like the body's organs do. It is something that the child develops because of something which happens to them rather than something that they themselves experience. For example, a baby can learn both spoken and signed language by the time they are 8-10 months old.[2] Before an infant can truly comprehend the correlation between hunger and its satiation via food, one can teach the child the sign for "drink" when they want a bottle. Genetics, and therefore Nature, determine something as fundamental as how a child learns language, proving that Nature is more important than Nurture.

Counter arguments

If the LAD was determined by genetics, children in multi-lingual households would tend to favor one language over the other, based upon their genetic makeup. If a child's genetic makeup was predominantly Japanese, for example, but the child grew up in a household which spoke Japanese and English equally, the child would learn Japanese more easily because the child's "initial state" of language would be Japanese. However, in a study conducted comparing monolingual and bilingual children, a preferential listening task demonstrated that the bilingual children did not show preference to one language over another when exposed to both languages in utero .[3]

Proponents

Premises

[P1] Language acquisition is predetermined by the initial language state. [P2] The initial language state is determined by genetics. [P3] Genetics, and therefore Nature, are fundamental to human development and identity as a whole.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] Language acquisition does not rely on the initial language state, but rather exposure.

References

  1. https://www.amazon.com/Essential-Chomsky-Noam-ebook/dp/B005MYIPDS/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=the+essential+chomsky&qid=1581057933&sr=8-1
  2. https://www.parentingscience.com/baby-sign-language.html
  3. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/annual-review-of-applied-linguistics/article/current-issues-in-multilingual-first-language-acquisition/09730EC40C5250CEB4768347B81E259C
This page was last edited on Monday, 9 Nov 2020 at 21:17 UTC

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