The AHRC Innateness and the Structure of the Mind Project

The AHRC Innateness and the Structure of the Mind Project (2001-2004) was a major three year interdisciplinary project based in the Philosophy Department at the University of Sheffield. The project was funded primarily through a major research grant of £310,000 from the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (to the project director, Stephen Laurence).

The project brought together top scholars in a broad range of disciplines — including animal psychology, anthropology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, economics, linguistics and psycholinguistics, neuroscience, and philosophy— to investigate the current status and most promising future directions of nativist research. (See also the related AHRC Culture and the Mind Project).

By bringing together many of the top researchers in philosophy and cognitive science to investigate basic philosophical questions and issues surrounding the doctrine of nativism, the project aimed:

The AHRC Innateness and the Structure of the Mind Project was centred around three sets of research questions, which were tackled in successive years.

  1. Year One: The Structure of the Innate Mind
  2. Year Two: Culture and the Innate Mind
  3. Year Three: Foundations and the Future

Three major international conferences were held in 2002, 2003 and 2004. All conferences were open to anyone wishing to attend, and volumes of papers from the conferences are now being published. See Project Publications for further details of these volumes.


This project was sponsored by the UK Arts & Humanities Research Council with additional funding provided by the University of Sheffield Hang Seng Centre for Cognitive Studies, the Rutgers University Research Group on Evolution and Higher Cognition, and the University of Maryland Cognitive Studies Group.