David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Cognitive Science 34 (5):776-806 (2010)
Research in education and cognitive development suggests that explaining plays a key role in learning and generalization: When learners provide explanations—even to themselves—they learn more effectively and generalize more readily to novel situations. This paper proposes and tests a subsumptive constraints account of this effect. Motivated by philosophical theories of explanation, this account predicts that explaining guides learners to interpret what they are learning in terms of unifying patterns or regularities, which promotes the discovery of broad generalizations. Three experiments provide evidence for the subsumptive constraints account: prompting participants to explain while learning artificial categories promotes the induction of a broad generalization underlying category membership, relative to describing items (Exp. 1), thinking aloud (Exp. 2), or free study (Exp. 3). Although explaining facilitates discovery, Experiment 1 finds that description is more beneficial for learning item details. Experiment 2 additionally suggests that explaining anomalous observations may play a special role in belief revision. The findings provide insight into explanation’s role in discovery and generalization.
|Keywords||Self‐explanation Anomalies Category learning Learning Explanation Transfer Generalization|
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References found in this work BETA
Michael Strevens (2008). Depth: An Account of Scientific Explanation. Harvard University Press.
Gregory L. Murphy (2004). The Big Book of Concepts. The MIT Press.
W. V. Quine (1970). The Web of Belief. New York,Random House.
Philip Kitcher (1981). Explanatory Unification. Philosophy of Science 48 (4):507-531.
Michael Friedman (1974). Explanation and Scientific Understanding. Journal of Philosophy 71 (1):5-19.
Citations of this work BETA
Justin C. Fisher (2014). Pragmatic Experimental Philosophy. Philosophical Psychology 28 (3):412-433.
Tania Lombrozo (2011). The Instrumental Value of Explanations. Philosophy Compass 6 (8):539-551.
Caren M. Walker, Tania Lombrozo, Cristine H. Legare & Alison Gopnik (2014). Explaining Prompts Children to Privilege Inductively Rich Properties. Cognition 133 (2):343-357.
Tania Lombrozo (2011). The Campaign for Concepts. Dialogue 50 (1):165-177.
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