Modularity and Constraints in Language and Cognition

By Megan R. Gunnar; Michael Maratsos | Go to book overview
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7 Beyond Modules

Jacqueline Goodnow Macquarie University

The several chapters in this volume have established a convincing case for the presence of modules of specialized--and possibly segmented--areas of knowledge and skill. I wish to start from the assumption that modules or constraints exist, and to ask: What follows? The specific three questions I raise have to do with (a) criteria for the inference of separate or dissimilar areas of knowledge or performance; (b) the nature of relations or connections among segmented areas; and (c) the implications of a concept of modules, constraints, or segments for developmental theory in general.


THE QUESTION OF DEFINITIONS AND CRITERIA

This question is the final form of a concern that arose early in the volume and went through several forms. My initial concern was with the meanings of several terms--constraints, specificity, domains, modules-- and the overlaps between them. This initial concern began to diminish in the course of Michael Maratsos' opening argument that these several concepts may be regarded as independent of one another (each does not imply the other). It shrank a little further with Ellen Markman's (chapter 3) use of "constraint" in the sense of a bias or predisposition, altering the probabilities of particular responses, Tom Bever's (chapter 6) analysis of various kinds of modules, and the several criteria offered by Carol Malatesta-Magai and Bruce Dorval (chapter 5), and Laura Petitto

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