Date of Original Version
Synthese, Vol. 122 (2000), 53-68.
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Abstract or Table of Contents
Words, Thoughts and Theories argues that infants and children discover the physical and psychological features of the world by a process akin to scientific inquiry, more or less as conceived by philosophers of science in the 1960s (the theory theory). This essay discusses some of the philosophical background to an alternative, more popular, “modular” or “maturational” account of development, dismisses an array of philosophical objections to the theory theory, suggests that the theory theory offers an undeveloped project for artificial intelligence, and, relying on recent psychological work on causation, offers suggestions about how principles of causal inference may provide a developmental solution to the “frame problem”.