Topoi

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 3–13

The Innateness Hypothesis and Mathematical Concepts

Authors

    • Centre for Logic and Analytical PhilosophyKatholieke Universiteit Leuven
  • Johan De Smedt
    • Department of Philosophy and EthicsGhent University
Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11245-009-9061-8

Cite this article as:
De Cruz, H. & De Smedt, J. Topoi (2010) 29: 3. doi:10.1007/s11245-009-9061-8

Abstract

In historical claims for nativism, mathematics is a paradigmatic example of innate knowledge. Claims by contemporary developmental psychologists of elementary mathematical skills in human infants are a legacy of this. However, the connection between these skills and more formal mathematical concepts and methods remains unclear. This paper assesses the current debates surrounding nativism and mathematical knowledge by teasing them apart into two distinct claims. First, in what way does the experimental evidence from infants, nonhuman animals and neuropsychology support the nativist hypothesis? Second, granting that infants have some elementary mathematical skills, does this mean that such skills play an important role in the development of mathematical knowledge?

Keywords

Innate knowledgeNativismMathematical knowledgeDevelopmental psychologyArithmetic

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009