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Methodological and Epistemological Issues in the Interpretation of Infant Cognitive Development

Authors

  • Ulrich Müller,

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Victoria
      concerning this article should be addressed to Ulrich Müller, Department of Psychology, University of Victoria, PO Box 3050 STN CSC, Victoria, BC, Canada V8W 3P5. Electronic mail may be sent to umueller@uvic.ca.
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  • Gerald Giesbrecht

    1. University of Victoria
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  • We would like to thank Jeremy Carpendale for helpful comments on an earlier draft of this article.

concerning this article should be addressed to Ulrich Müller, Department of Psychology, University of Victoria, PO Box 3050 STN CSC, Victoria, BC, Canada V8W 3P5. Electronic mail may be sent to umueller@uvic.ca.

Abstract

This commentary on J. Kagan (2008) addresses 2 issues. The first concerns the importance of studying developmental sequences and processes of change. The second concerns epistemological differences between contemporary neonativist approaches and classical theories of development. The commentary argues that classical theories of infant cognition and contemporary neonativist theories fundamentally differ in terms of how they conceptualize the workings of the mind. These differences affect the meaning of terms such as representation and reasoning. Also discussed are implications of epistemological differences for developmental explanations. The commentary concludes that epistemological differences must be articulated more fully in order to improve understanding of different theories and in order to evaluate the relative merits and shortcomings of those theories.

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