The theory theory thrice over: The child as scientist, superscientist, or social institution?

Abstract
Alison Gopnik and Andrew Meltzoff have argued for a view they call the ‘theory theory’: theory change in science and children are similar. While their version of the theory theory has been criticized for depending on a number of disputed claims, we argue that there is a fundamental problem which is much more basic: the theory theory is multiply ambiguous. We show that it might be claiming that a similarity holds between theory change in children and (i) individual scientists, (ii) a rational reconstruction of a Superscientist, or (iii) the scientific community. We argue that (i) is false, (ii) is non-empirical (which is problematic since the theory theory is supposed to be a bold empirical hypothesis), and (iii) is either false or doesn’t make enough sense to have a truth-value. We conclude that the theory theory is an interesting failure. Its failure points the way to a full, empirical picture of scientific development, one that marries a concern with the social dynamics of science to a psychological theory of scientific cognition.  2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved
Keywords Change  Children  Development  Science  Scientist  Theory
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DOI 10.1016/S0039-3681(01)00029-2
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References found in this work BETA
A Confutation of Convergent Realism.Larry Laudan - 2002 - In Yuri Balashov & Alexander Rosenberg (eds.), Philosophy of Science: Contemporary Readings. Routledge. pp. 211.
A Confutation of Convergent Realism.Larry Laudan - 1981 - Philosophy of Science 48 (1):19-49.
Falsification and the Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes.Lakatos Imre - 1970 - In Imre Lakatos & Alan Musgrave (eds.), Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge. Cambridge University Press. pp. 91-195.
Explanation as Orgasm.Alison Gopnik - 1998 - Minds and Machines 8 (1):101-118.
The Importance of Models in Theorizing: A Deflationary Semantic View.Stephen M. Downes - 1992 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1992:142 - 153.

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Citations of this work BETA
Cognitive Individualism and the Child as Scientist Program.Bill Wringe - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 42 (4):518-529.
Cognitive Individualism and the Child as Scientist Program.Bill Wringe - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 42 (4):518-529.

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