The diversity phenomenon

Foundations of Science 5 (2):239-253 (2000)
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Abstract

The remarkable transition from helpless infant to sophisticatedfive-year-old has long captured the attention of scholars interested inthe discovery of knowledge. To explain these achievements, developmentalpsychologists often compare children's discovery procedures to those ofprofessional scientists. For the child to be qualified as a ``littlescientist'', however, intellectual development must be shown to derivefrom rational hypothesis selection in the face of evidence. In thepresent paper we focus on one dimension of rational theory-choice,namely, the relation between hypothesis confirmation and evidencediversity. Psychological research suggests cultural variability inappreciating evidence diversity and lack of such appreciation by youngchildren. Before reaching conclusions about the ``little scientist''thesis, however, it is essential to normatively analyze the diversityissue. We undertake such an analysis within a Bayesianperspective.

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