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The Essential ChildOrigins of Essentialism in Everyday Thought$
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Susan A. Gelman

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780195154061

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195154061.001.0001

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Causal Explanations, Causal Determinism

Causal Explanations, Causal Determinism

(p.108) Chapter 5 Causal Explanations, Causal Determinism
The Essential Child

Susan A. Gelman (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

People appeal to hidden, nonobvious features in constructing certain categories. The question that arises is: why should this be? The essentialist position proposes that causes are more important than effects — and causes are more internal, hidden, nonobvious than are effects (at least for natural kinds). This chapter argues for the centrality of causes in children—s concepts by showing that children's understanding of cause can determine which features are pivotal in the categories they form, and that children's explanations for category structure appeal to essences or essence-like constructs. It is also suggested that the link between essences and categories follows from children's propensity to search for causes.

Keywords:   essentialism, children, child psychology, categories, causes

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