This book has a complex epigenesis, starting with a decision by Elizabeth Spelke and Rochel Gelman to convene a workshop to discuss what it could mean to say there are structural constraints on cognitive development. In June of 1984 (thanks to support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Program in Cognitive Science at the University of Pennsylvania) about 20 scholars with different theoretical persuasions and areas of expertise, including Computer Science, Biology, Ethology, Philosophy and Psychology, gathered at Penn to talk about the idea that knowledge can be innate and yet develop. These discussions provided the background material for the working group on Structural Constraints on Cognitive Development that spent the next year at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in Stanford, California. Ann Brown, Frank Keil, and the two of us met every Monday morning to study relevant literatures--including ones on ethology and animal psychology--and evolve our positions. Randy Gallistel, also at the Center, served as a sounding board for our forays into psychobiological areas. We also held a seminar for other interested Center Fellows and scholars at nearby institutions. We thank Eve Clark, John Flavell, and Ellen Markman (at Stanford), Kurt van Lehn (at Xerox Parc), Mary Kistler (at Ames-NASA), and Tom Bever, Jacqueline Goodnow, Arthur Parmelee, and Arnold Sameroff (all Center Fellows) for their contributions to our exploration of the role of domain-specific and domain-general constraints on cognitive development.
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation joined the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in their support of our group efforts; it also provided full or partial funding for Randy Gallistel, Rochel Gelman, and Frank Keil; Ann Brown and Susan Carey received funding from the Spencer Foundation. Further contributions to Gelman's support were provided by an NICHHD Senior Postdoctoral Fellowship; The Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, The Exxon Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation all made contributions to Keil's stipend.
Finally, a special note of thanks to the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and Gardner Lindzey in particular, for encouraging and facilitating the gathering of our study group and supporting our work during our stay in an extraordinary fashion.
Susan Carey Rochel Gelman