The Cognitive Basis of Science concerns the question 'What makes science possible?' Specifically, what features of the human mind and of human culture and cognitive development permit and facilitate the conduct of science? The essays in this volume address these questions, which are inherently interdisciplinary, requiring co-operation between philosophers, psychologists, and others in the social and cognitive sciences. They concern the cognitive, social, and motivational underpinnings of scientific reasoning in children and lay persons as well as in professional scientists. The (...) editors' introduction lays out the background to the debates, and the volume includes a consolidated bibliography that will be a valuable reference resource for all those interested in this area. The volume will be of great importance to all researchers and students interested in the philosophy or psychology of scientific reasoning, as well as those, more generally, who are interested in the nature of the human mind. (shrink)
In three experiments involving 104 children and 86 adults we investigated the extent to which harm brought about by physical contact is judged to be worse than harm caused by impersonal, no-contact actions. In Experiment 1, Italian monolingual children aged 4 to 6 were asked to indicate whether they would prioritize saving five persons through contact over saving three persons without contact with both courses of action involving harm to a single victim. A preference for saving more persons did not (...) emerge until the age of 6 years. By contrast, in Experiment 2, children with a Slovenian-Italian linguistic and cultural background judged that to save five with contact was preferable even at the age of 4 and 5 years. In Experiment 3, Slovenian-Italian adults were also significantly more likely than Italian-only speakers to advocate using contact, although in a direct comparison, both groups prioritized saving five over three persons, regardless of the means. Moral diversity is discussed in terms of cultural and linguistic constraints that may serve to mediate the use of considerations of contact in an intuitive moral psychology. (shrink)
Children have a spontaneous interest in the world around them - the workings of the earth, sun, and stars, the nature of number, time and space, or the functioning of the body. Yet what is there in children's minds that is the key to their knowledge? This book examines what children can and do know, based on extensive studies from a range of cultures.
Children have an innate interest in the world around them - the workings of the earth, sun, and stars, the nature of number, time and space, or the functioning of the body. Yet what is there in children's minds that is the key to their knowledge? This book examines what children can and do know, based on extensive studies from a range of cultures.
In this study, we examined the extent to which young children can be influenced by the perceived blessed status of an actor in their evaluations of behavior as a lie or mistake. Children aged 4 and 5 years attending Catholic schools in an urban center in Northern Italy were provided with a situation in which two girls in church were blessed with holy water or shook the priest's hand. The girls were then placed in a setting in which each told (...) a third girl that contaminated juice was good to drink: one deliberately lied and the other had no knowledge of the contaminant and made a mistake. Significantly more children judged both girls to have made a mistake in the blessed condition than in the not blessed condition. Their accuracy in distinguishing mistakes from lies in the not blessed condition resembled that reported in previous research in which traits such as blessedness were not assigned to the perpetrators. Thus children often perceived lying as uncharacteristic of the blessed whereas they applied the definition of lying as involving intentional falsehood for the not blessed. The results are discussed in terms of an early cultural cognition that involves beliefs about processes of purification and positive contagion. (shrink)
The thesis of discontinuity between humans and nonhumans requires evidence from formal reasoning tasks that rules out solutions based on associative strategies. However, insightful problem solving can be often credited through talking to humans, but not to nonhumans. We note the paradox of assuming that reasoning is orthogonal to language and enculturation while employing the criterion of using language to compare what humans and nonhumans know.
We have found that moral considerations interact with belief ascription in determining intentionality judgment. We attribute this finding to a differential availability of plausible counterfactual alternatives that undo the negative side-effect of an action. We conclude that Knobe's thesis does not account for processes by which counterfactuals are generated and how these processes affect moral evaluations.
We examine Carruthers’ proposal that sentences in logical form serve to create flexibility within central system modularity, enabling the combination of information from different modalities. We discuss evidence from aphasia and the neurobiology of input-output systems. This work suggests that there exists considerable capacity for interdomain cognitive processing without language mediation. Other challenges for a logical form account are noted.
Bloom's book underscores the importance of specifying the role of words and grammar in cognition. We propose that the cognitive power of language lies in the lexicon rather than grammar. We suggest ways in which studies involving children and patients with aphasia can provide insights into the basis of abstract cognition in the domain of number and mathematics.
Although Carpendale & Lewis (C&L) correctly emphasize the importance of conversation in children's social understanding, they neglect several complex issues. Contrary to their assertion, the focus on mental state processing has not been misplaced, and there is a need to recognize that different aspects of social understanding are liable to undergo distinctive developmental changes that vary in relation to social interaction.