Scott Atran a1 a1 Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, CREA (Ecole Polytechnique) 75005 Paris, France and Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1248
The target article contains a number of distinct but
interrelated claims about the cognitive nature of folk biology
based in part on cross-cultural work with urbanized Americans
and forest-dwelling Maya Indians. Folk biology consists universally
of a ranked taxonomy centered on essence-based generic species.
This taxonomy is domain-specific, perhaps an innately determined
evolutionary adaptation. Folk biology also plays a special role in
cultural evolution in general, and in the development of Western
biological science in particular. Even in our culture, however, it
retains an autonomy from other domains of thought and from
science. These claims are questioned and clarified.