Unfinished Business

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

 Unfinished Business

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Essentialism is a vast, untidy topic, and the acquisition of psychological essentialism in children remains unclear. This chapter discusses three sets of unresolved issues: skeptical responses to psychological essentialism (is the essentialist framework necessary? what would disconfirm essentialism?), the scope of essentialism in different populations (different cultures, different species, different phases of development, and individual differences), and broader implications for theories of concepts and of cognitive development (what can children tell us about the nature of concepts, and what can concepts tell us about the nature of children? do we ever transcend essentialist thinking?).

Keywords: essentialism; children; child psychology; cognitive development; essentialist thinking; concepts; nature

Chapter.  8581 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Developmental Psychology

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