Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

pp 1-4

Date: Latest Version

Carruthers on Massive Modularity

  • Ian D. StephenAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Macquarie UniversityARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, Macquarie UniversityPerception in Action Research Centre, Macquarie University Email author 
  • , Darren BurkeAffiliated withSchool of Psychology, University of Newcastle
  • , Danielle SulikowskiAffiliated withSchool of Psychology, Charles Sturt University


Adaptive specialisations; Domain specificity


Carruthers defines mental modules more loosely than does Fodor and provides three arguments in defense of the concept of massive modularity of mind.


In The Architecture of the Mind: Massive Modularity and the Flexibility of Thought, Carruthers (2006) defends the concept of massive modularity of the human mind. He first distinguishes massive modularity (that the brain is composed entirely of modules) from Fodorian modularity (which postulated peripheral modules feeding into a domain-general central processor/s). He then provides a series of three formal arguments for the massive modularity of mind: an argument based on the architecture of complex biological systems; an argument appealing to task specificity, which is supported largely by comparative evidence; and an argument from computational tractability. The current entry summarizes Carruthers’ position and notes some key challenges that his arguments have recei ...

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