In his 1689 "Essay Concerning Human Understanding," the philosopher John Locke wrote that if "we will attentively consider new born children, we shall have little reason to think that they bring many ideas into the world with them."
He proposed that we think of the newborn's mind as a white piece of paper, "void of all characters, without any ideas." Ideas, he posited, including the sense of right and wrong, are the product of the child's experience.
This view, which came to be known as the "blank slate," dominated the social sciences for the better part of three hundred years, despite accumulating evidence that it didn't conform to, well, human experience.
Now a recent finding from Yale might just put the final nail in the blank slate's coffin.