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Causal CognitionA Multidisciplinary Debate$
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Dan Sperber, David Premack, and Ann James Premack

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198524021

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198524021.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 17 October 2021

Distinguishing between animates and inanimates: not by motion alone

Distinguishing between animates and inanimates: not by motion alone

(p.150) 6 Distinguishing between animates and inanimates: not by motion alone
Causal Cognition

Rochel Gelman

Frank Durgin

Lisa Kaufman

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents an account of the origins and development of one's ability to classify moveable entities as either animate or inanimate. The account builds on the known abilities of young infants to find three dimensional objects and to reason about some of their fundamental physical characteristics, for example, that they occupy space, move as a whole, or cannot pass through each other. This chapter also shows that motion paths are ambiguous for adults, not just infants. A moving object is perceived as inanimate when its motion path is consistent with Newtonian laws of motion. If the motion path violates Newtonian principles, then animacy is perceived.

Keywords:   animate, inanimate, infants, objects, motion, laws of motion, Newtonian principles

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