Ideas of Susan A. Gelman, by Theme

[American, fl. 2003, Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan.]

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7. Existence / E. Categories / 2. Categorisation
Even fairly simple animals make judgements based on categories
Children accept real stable categories, with nonobvious potential that gives causal explanations
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 1. Essences of Objects
In India, upper-castes essentialize caste more than lower-castes do
Essentialism is either natural to us, or an accident of our culture, or a necessary result of language
Children's concepts include nonobvious features, like internal parts, functions and causes
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 2. Types of Essence
Essentialism: real or representational? sortal, causal or ideal? real particulars, or placeholders?
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 5. Essence as Kind
Essentialism says categories have a true hidden nature which gives an object its identity
Sortals are needed for determining essence - the thing must be categorised first
Kind (unlike individual) essentialism assumes preexisting natural categories
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 7. Essence and Necessity / c. Essentials are necessary
Kinship is essence that comes in degrees, and age groups are essences that change over time
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 14. Knowledge of Essences
Essentialism comes from the cognitive need to categorise
We found no evidence that mothers teach essentialism to their children
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 15. Against Essentialism
Essentialism is useful for predictions, but it is not the actual structure of reality
9. Objects / E. Objects over Time / 12. Origin as Essential
Peope favor historical paths over outward properties when determining what something is
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 2. Understanding
There is intentional, mechanical, teleological, essentialist, vitalist and deontological understanding
12. Knowledge Sources / E. Direct Knowledge / 3. Memory
Memories often conform to a theory, rather than being neutral
14. Science / C. Induction / 1. Induction
Inductive success is rewarded with more induction
14. Science / C. Induction / 3. Limits of Induction
Children overestimate the power of a single example
Children make errors in induction by focusing too much on categories
14. Science / D. Explanation / 1. Explanation / a. Explanation
People tend to be satisfied with shallow explanations
18. Thought / A. Modes of Thought / 5. Folk Psychology
Folk essentialism rests on belief in natural kinds, in hidden properties, and on words indicating structures
18. Thought / D. Concepts / 3. Ontology of Concepts / a. Concepts as representations
Labels may indicate categories which embody an essence
18. Thought / D. Concepts / 4. Structure of Concepts / a. Conceptual structure
Causal properties are seen as more central to category concepts
18. Thought / D. Concepts / 4. Structure of Concepts / d. Concepts as prototypes
Categories are characterized by distance from a prototype
18. Thought / D. Concepts / 4. Structure of Concepts / f. Theory theory of concepts
Theory-based concepts use rich models to show which similarities really matter
18. Thought / D. Concepts / 5. Concepts and Language / c. Concepts without language
Prelinguistic infants acquire and use many categories
26. Natural Theory / B. Concepts of Nature / 6. Natural Kinds / c. Knowing kinds
One sample of gold is enough, but one tree doesn't give the height of trees
26. Natural Theory / B. Concepts of Nature / 6. Natural Kinds / f. Reference to natural kinds
Nouns seem to invoke stable kinds more than predicates do
26. Natural Theory / D. Laws of Nature / 8. Scientific Essentialism / a. Scientific essentialism
Essentialism encourages us to think about the world scientifically
Essentialism doesn't mean we know the essences
26. Natural Theory / D. Laws of Nature / 8. Scientific Essentialism / d. Knowing essences
Essentialism starts from richly structured categories, leading to a search for underlying properties
26. Natural Theory / D. Laws of Nature / 8. Scientific Essentialism / e. Anti scientific essentialism
A major objection to real essences is the essentialising of social categories like race, caste and occupation