Animal vs. human rationality-cum-conceptuality: a philosophical perspective on developmental psychology

Yakir Levin, Itzhak Aharon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In this paper, we first extract from Susan Carey’s seminal account of the origin of concepts a notion of rationality, which is (1) applicable to human infants and non-human animals; (2) significantly different from the notions of rationality prevalent in behavioral ecology and yet, like these notions, amenable to empirical testing; (3) conceptually more fundamental than the latter notions. Relatedly, this notion (4) underlies a proto-conceptuality ascribable, by a key component of Carey’s account, to human infants and non-human animals. Based on a Kantian-inspired analysis of fully-fledged conceptuality and the type of rationality underlying it, we then show (1) the profound difference between the type of rationality extracted from Carey’s account and the rationality of human adults; (2) related fundamental differences between the types of conceptual representation that these types of rationality respectively ground. By showing this, we highlight fundamental aspects of conceptual representations that are missing from Carey’s account of the origin of concepts. Based on this, we finally argue that, as ingenious and explanatorily valuable as Carey’s account of the origin of concepts is, it is only a partial account of this origin.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMind and Society
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2022

Keywords

  • Behavioral ecology
  • Conceptuality
  • Core cognition
  • Developmental psychology
  • Mental representation
  • Rationality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Philosophy
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)

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