Cognitive individualism and the child as scientist program

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 42 (4):518-529 (2011)
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Abstract

n this paper, I examine the charge that Gopnik and Meltzoff’s ‘Child as Scientist’ program, outlined and defended in their 1997 book Words, Thoughts and Theories is vitiated by a form of ‘cognitive individualism’ about science. Although this charge has often been leveled at Gopnik and Meltzoff’s work, it has rarely been developed in any detail. I suggest that we should distinguish between two forms of cognitive individualism which I refer to as ‘ontic’ and ‘epistemic’ cognitive individualism (OCI and ECI respectively). I then argue - contra Ronald Giere – that Gopnik and Meltzoff’s commitment to OCI is relatively unproblematic, since it is an easily detachable part of their view. By contrast, and despite their explicit discussion of the issue, their commitment to ECI is much more problematic.

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Bill Wringe
Bilkent University

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