The Epigenesis of Mind: Essays on Biology and Cognition

By Susan G. Carey; Rochel G. Gelman | Go to book overview

7 Constraining Nativist Inferences about Cognitive Capacities

Kurt W. Fischer Thomas Bidell Harvard University

Biological factors clearly play a major role in cognitive development, setting constraints on behavior that provide directions to development. As Peter Marler (this volume) has argued persuasively, even the capacity to learn is itself a species-specific characteristic, determined in part by genetic inheritance. For too long, researchers in cognitive development have merely assumed that such constraints are at work and avoided the difficult business of ferreting out the specific nature of the genetic constraints and their relation to the development of cognitive skills. This gap is now beginning to be closed, thanks largely to a newly emerging research tradition variously referred to as structural-constraint theory, rational constructivism, or neo-nativism.

The purpose of this chapter is to offer a critical appraisal of some of the theoretical claims and research methods of this new tradition. We believe that the study of biological constraints on cognitive development is a timely and important new trend in the field; yet in any new approach there is always a risk that new discoveries will be overgeneralized. New, and sometimes startling, information about infants' and children's seemingly precocious skills promises to illuminate the relations between biological constraints and cognitive development. At the same time, inferences about innate knowledge or concepts have been drawn that are overgeneralizations not warranted by the evidence. To avoid such overgeneralizations, we suggest theoretical and methodological guidelines for constraining these inferences, placing the evidence within an epigenetic framework that both emphasizes the importance of the early behaviors and specifies their limitations.

-199-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Epigenesis of Mind: Essays on Biology and Cognition
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 342

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.