Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Causal LearningPsychology, Philosophy, and Computation$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Alison Gopnik and Laura Schulz

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195176803

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195176803.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 30 September 2020

Essentialism as a Generative Theory of Classification

Essentialism as a Generative Theory of Classification

(p.190) 12 Essentialism as a Generative Theory of Classification
Causal Learning

Bob Rehder

Oxford University Press

Essentialism is the view that kinds are defined by underlying properties or characteristics (an essence) that is shared by all category members and by members of no other categories and that are presumed to generate, or cause, perceptual features. Although unobservable, essential features can nonetheless affect classification by changing the evidence that observable features provide for category membership. This chapter proposes treating essentialized categories as a generative causal model and provides evidence for four phenomena that follow from this view: (a) classification as diagnostic reasoning; (b) classification as prospective reasoning; (c) boundary intensification; and (d) the effect of coherence on classification. The chapter also characterizes the development of conceptual knowledge in terms of an evolving set of causal models.

Keywords:   essentialism, classification, conceptual development, concept representation, diagnostic reasoning, generative models

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .