Innateness in British Philosophy, c. 1750 - 1820

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This paper argues that, far from having been killed off by Locke, innateness is close to the center of British philosophy throughout the 'long' eighteenth century. The second half of the century is examined in particular detail, with an account given first of defenses of innateness on the part of philosophers such as James Harris, Richard Price, Lord Monboddo, Thomas Reid, and Dugald Stewart, and then of wholesale rejections of innateness by Hartleyan philosophers such as Joseph Priestley, Erasmus Darwin, and John Horne Tooke. The debate about innateness, it is argued, suggests that it is far from clear what it means to call Locke, in the manner of Leslie Stephen, the "intellectual ruler" of the eighteenth century.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-227
JournalEighteenth-Century Thought
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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