The Roots of Scientific Reasoning: Infancy, Modularity, and the Art of Tracking
Peter Carruthers. The Roots of Scientific Reasoning: Infancy, Modularity, and the Art of Tracking. In P.Carruthers, S.Stich and M.Siegal (eds.), The Cognitive Basis of Science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
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This chapter examines the extent to which there are continuities between the cognitive processes and epistemic practices engaged in by human hunter–gatherers, on the one hand, and those which are distinctive of science, on the other. It deploys anthropological evidence against any form of ‘no-continuity’ view, drawing especially on the cognitive skills involved in the art of tracking. It also argues against the ‘child-as-scientist’ accounts put forward by some developmental psychologists, which imply that scientific thinking is present in early infancy and universal amongst humans who have sufficient time and resources to devote to it. In contrast, a modularist kind of ‘continuity’ account is proposed, according to which the innately channelled architecture of human cognition provides all the materials necessary for basic forms of scientific reasoning in older children and adults, needing only the appropriate sorts of external support, social context, and background beliefs and skills in order for science to begin its advance.