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The Innate MindStructure and Contents$
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Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence, and Stephen Stich

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195179675

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195179675.001.0001

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Number and Natural Language *

Number and Natural Language *

(p.216) 13 Number and Natural Language*
The Innate Mind

Stephen Laurence (Contributor Webpage)

Eric Margolis (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the question of whether there is an essential connection between language and number, while looking more broadly at some of the potential innate precursors to the acquisition of the positive integers. It focuses on the theoretical question of how language may figure in an account of the ontogeny of the positive integers. Despite the trend in developmental psychology to suppose that it does, there are actually few detailed accounts on offer. Two exceptions are examined — two theories that give natural language a prominent role to play and that represent the state of the art in the study of mathematical cognition. The first is owing to C. R. Gallistel, Rochel Gelman, and their colleagues; the second to Elizabeth Spelke and her colleagues. Although both accounts are rich and innovative, they face a range of serious objections, in particular, their appeal to language isn't helpful.

Keywords:   language, number, innateness, ontogeny, positive integers, C. R. Gallistel, Rochel Gelman, Elizabeth Spelke

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