The innateness hypothesis and mathematical concepts

Topoi 29 (1):3-13 (2010)
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Abstract

In historical claims for nativism, mathematics is a paradigmatic example of innate knowledge. Claims by contemporary developmental psychologists of elementary mathematical skills in human infants are a legacy of this. However, the connection between these skills and more formal mathematical concepts and methods remains unclear. This paper assesses the current debates surrounding nativism and mathematical knowledge by teasing them apart into two distinct claims. First, in what way does the experimental evidence from infants, nonhuman animals and neuropsychology support the nativist hypothesis? Second, granting that infants have some elementary mathematical skills, does this mean that such skills play an important role in the development of mathematical knowledge?

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Author Profiles

Johan De Smedt
Saint Louis University
Helen De Cruz
Saint Louis University

References found in this work

Mathematical truth.Paul Benacerraf - 1973 - Journal of Philosophy 70 (19):661-679.
Philosophy of mathematics: structure and ontology.Stewart Shapiro - 1997 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The mathematical experience.Philip J. Davis - 1981 - Boston: Birkhäuser. Edited by Reuben Hersh & Elena Marchisotto.
Core systems of number.Stanislas Dehaene, Elizabeth Spelke & Lisa Feigenson - 2004 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 8 (7):307-314.
Philosophy of Mathematics: Structure and Ontology.Stewart Shapiro - 2000 - Philosophical Quarterly 50 (198):120-123.

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