Steven Arthur Pinker (born September 18 1954) is a prominent Canadian-American experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, and popular science writer known for his spirited and wide-ranging advocacy of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind.
Pinker’s academic specializations are visual cognition and language development in children, and he is most famous for popularizing the idea that language is an "instinct" or biological adaptation shaped by natural selection rather than a by-product of general intelligence. His four books for a general audience — The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, Words and Rules and The Blank Slate — have won numerous awards.
Pinker was born in Canada and graduated from Montreal's Dawson College in 1973, received a first class bachelor's degree in experimental psychology from McGill University in 1976, then went on to earn his doctorate in the same discipline at Harvard in 1979. Pinker is currently the Johnstone Family Professor...
The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature is a best-selling 2002 book by Steven Pinker arguing against tabula rasa models of the social sciences. Pinker argues that human behaviour is substantially shaped by evolutionary psychological adaptations. The book won the 2003 Aventis Prizes.
Pinker argues that modern science has challenged three "linked dogmas" that comprise the dominant view of human nature in intellectual life:
Much of the book is dedicated to examining fears of the social and political consequences of his view of human nature:
Pinker claims these fears are non sequiturs, and that the blank slate view of human nature would actually be a greater threat if it were true. For example, he argues that political equality does not require sameness, but policies that treat people as individuals with rights; that moral progress doesn't require the human mind to be naturally free of selfish motives, only that it have other motives to counteract them; that responsibility...