David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Cognition 74 (149):175 (2000)
Recent work on children’s inferences concerning biological and chemical categories has suggested that children (and perhaps adults) are essentialists— a view known as psychological essentialism. I distinguish three varieties of psychological essentialism and investigate the ways in which essentialism explains the inferences for which it is supposed to account. Essentialism succeeds in explaining the inferences, I argue, because it attributes to the child belief in causal laws connecting category membership and the possession of certain characteristic appearances and behavior. This suggests that the data will be equally well explained by a non-essentialist hypothesis that attributes belief in the appropriate causal laws to the child, but makes no claim as to whether or not the child represents essences. I provide several reasons to think that this non-essentialist hypothesis is in fact superior to any version of the essentialist hypothesis
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Citations of this work BETA
Sandeep Prasada & Elaine M. Dillingham (2006). Principled and Statistical Connections in Common Sense Conception. Cognition 99 (1):73-112.
Michael Strevens (2014). High-Level Exceptions Explained. Erkenntnis 79 (10):1819-1832.
Paul Griffiths, Edouard Machery & Stefan Linquist (2009). The Vernacular Concept of Innateness. Mind and Language 24 (5):605-630.
Sandeep Prasada & Elaine M. Dillingham (2009). Representation of Principled Connections: A Window Onto the Formal Aspect of Common Sense Conception. Cognitive Science 33 (3):401-448.
Woo-Kyoung Ahn, Charles Kalish, Susan A. Gelman, Douglas L. Medin, Christian Luhmann, Scott Atran, John D. Coley & Patrick Shafto (2001). Why Essences Are Essential in the Psychology of Concepts. Cognition 82 (1):59-69.
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