The Child‐Scientist Theory

Alvin I. Goldman

in Simulating Minds

Published in print August 2006 | ISBN: 9780195138924
Published online September 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199786480 | DOI:

Series: Philosophy of Mind Series

 The Child‐Scientist Theory

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Early childhood failures on false-belief tasks and related tasks lead many developmental psychologists to conclude that children (like scientists) undergo a succession of changes in their mental-state theories, especially changes from a non-representational to a representational theory. Early errors in belief attribution are viewed as the product of a “conceptual deficit” rather than performance limitations. Other evidence, however, suggests that performance factors like memory and inhibitory control problems are at least partly responsible. Recent experiments with reduced task demands enabled children as young as 15 months to show understanding of false belief. Child-scientist advocates usually hold that theoretical inference is used for both first-person and third-person mindreading, but there is evidence that undercuts first-person/third-person parallelism.

Keywords: conceptual deficit; false-belief tasks; inhibitory control; parallelism; performance limitations

Chapter.  12053 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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