Causal Explanations, Causal Determinism

Susan A. Gelman

in The Essential Child

Published in print May 2003 | ISBN: 9780195154061
Published online September 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780199786718 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Series in Cognitive Development

 Causal Explanations, Causal Determinism

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People appeal to hidden, nonobvious features in constructing certain categories. The question that arises is: why should this be? The essentialist position proposes that causes are more important than effects — and causes are more internal, hidden, nonobvious than are effects (at least for natural kinds). This chapter argues for the centrality of causes in children—s concepts by showing that children's understanding of cause can determine which features are pivotal in the categories they form, and that children's explanations for category structure appeal to essences or essence-like constructs. It is also suggested that the link between essences and categories follows from children's propensity to search for causes.

Keywords: essentialism; children; child psychology; categories; causes

Chapter.  12809 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Developmental Psychology

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