The innateness hypothesis and mathematical concepts

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

Authors
Johan De Smedt
University of Ghent
Helen De Cruz
Saint Louis University
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?
Keywords Innate knowledge  Nativism  Mathematical knowledge  Developmental psychology  Arithmetic
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DOI 10.1007/s11245-009-9061-8
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References found in this work BETA

Core Systems of Number.Stanislas Dehaene, Elizabeth Spelke & Lisa Feigenson - 2004 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 8 (7):307-314.
Mathematical Truth.Paul Benacerraf - 1973 - Journal of Philosophy 70 (19):661-679.

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Citations of this work BETA

Philosophy of Mathematics: Making a Fresh Start.Carlo Cellucci - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (1):32-42.
Top-Down and Bottom-Up Philosophy of Mathematics.Carlo Cellucci - 2013 - Foundations of Science 18 (1):93-106.
A Historically and Philosophically Informed Approach to Mathematical Metaphors.Roy Wagner - 2013 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 27 (2):109-135.

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