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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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Essentialism in Language

Essentialism in Language

(p.179) Chapter 8 Essentialism in Language
The Essential Child

Susan A. Gelman (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that language exerts important influences on essentialist reasoning. Two primary ways that language seems to affect the construction of essentialized kind are discussed: one is by conveying membership in a richly structured category (naming), the other is by expressing the scope of a proposition (generic noun phrases). These are then contrasted with two forms that, although potentially relevant to essentializing, are not used to essentialize (the word “kind” and universal quantifiers). The discussion ends by cautioning that, despite the importance of language, there is no compelling evidence as yet that language creates an essentialist stance, or that essentialism requires language.

Keywords:   essentialism, children, child psychology, language, reasoning, essentialized kind

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