"It is quite unclear what evolutionary psychology's modules are supposed to be, something might be gained by making these differences more explicit than has been done so far." Eric R
"We had better think of the mind as kludge, with sundry bits and components added at different times, and interconnected in ways that would make an engineer cringe" ... Dan Sperber, 1994
"If we had to wait until we knew every detail of the question studied, no one would venture to write the little that he knows. From time to time, a few truths are revealed, tiny pieces of the vast mosaic of things, Better to divulge the discovery, however humble it be. Others will come who, also gathering a few fragments, will assemble the whole into a picture ever larger but always notched by the unknown" Henri Fabre, 1902
"Keller & Lloyd suggest that '...a relative looseness in terminology may be correspondingly essential to the maintenance and fostering of speculative multiplicity.'" (1992,Keywords in Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University Press) Shifting meanings is a reflection of the rapid changes occurring in the field."
Gosh, I just used up nearly all of my favorite quotes.
Eric, there's an opening for you in EP and Sociobiology in regard to modules and "innate knowledge" but keep a couple of things in mind (and forgive the examples, please). Go stand on the edge of a paved road when there is no traffic, bend over until the white border is about 5 inches from your nose. Do you see a line or mountains and valleys? Do you see a plane or an array of textures. Watch the line as you stand and move further away ... it becomes a line.
"Trait" labels in biology is usually inconsistent. As we move closer to a topic, boundaries blur. It's also true for cell walls, for national borders. We can move closer to our favorite objects but, whether Cheshire cats or wavicles, they disappear on us. Some of our love from precision may be an artifact of language ... that one noun refers to one and only one thing. I suggest that most sentences have implicit probability values. "The teacher is always unfair to everybody" means that the teacher (90% certainty) restricted (10% certainty) recess (30%) for your child (80%) or for his best friend (25%?). Multiplying the sentence gives you a truth estimation of .9 x .1 x .3 x .8 or about 2 chances in a hundred that you can be certain of its meaning.
Psychology once allowed intervening variables and hypothetical constructs. The former is a bit of shorthand for a class of observations that appear to vary together; the latter means the same thing but you have good reason to think that the mechanisms will be observable some day. We justified these things to chunk information and to make some predictions about future observations. Some of them -- approach and avoidance gradients, hunger as a drive, cheater detectors, psychological adaptations -- seem to be generating some fun information.
EP may have its battles with cognitive approaches ... EP will have "modules" clustered on the basis of evolutionary theory; the cognitive people may prefer more abstract labels, perhaps skipping functions while organizing their data by Kantian or geometric characteristics. I'm into life and the warm squishy things that go with it; I like the EP labels. Other personalities will prefer a different set and some meticulous soul will track the ease or difficulty with which units from one set (perhaps rectilinearity) will be borrowed by another set (such as writing computer code).
My favorite science also is usually less about defining what "is" and more about describing functional relationships between events and event classes. Anyhow, pick a set of terms that fit comfortably with your other psychological adaptations, build some models, and check their match with what you can see, touch, feel, hear, smell, or -- in Gil Levin/Robert Heinlein language -- "grok."
David Buss' article in the January '98 "American Psychologist" lists about 30 psych adaptations for which there is more than imaginary data. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You might also enjoy a phenomenon called "biologic motion" in which viewers are only shown the moving joints of a person. Still, the viewer can judge the gender and other subtleties just from watching the 11 spots of light, one to each major joint. Infants can make the same discriminations.
Innate learning? Module? Psychological Adaptation? ... take your pick