Human Nature and Universal Moral Grammar

  • Peter Wilkin
Part of the Critical Explorations in Contemporary Political Thought book series (CEPT)


The concept of human nature is central to Chomsky’s work in philosophy, linguistics, and politics. In this chapter I will set out the significance of Chomsky’s views on human nature, nuanced and qualified as they are, for the social sciences. The recognition of the significance of his ideas has grown over recent years with the rise of evolutionary psychology (EP) and sociobiology (SB), both of which posit very strong accounts of the evolutionary and genetic basis for human nature and universal human behaviour (Caplan, 1978; Dennan and Falger, 1990; Maxwell, 1991; Pinker, 1994; 2002; Rose and Rose, 2000; Thornhill and Palmer, 2000; Buss, 2011). What I will show is that, by contrast, Chomsky’s innatist ideas, derived from his scientific work in linguistics, are quite different from those generally expressed in EP and SB, however sympathetic he may be to them in principle.


Human Behaviour Human Nature Evolutionary Psychology Moral Knowledge Political Thought 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Peter Wilkin 2015

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  • Peter Wilkin

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