The Diversity Principle and the Little Scientist Hypothesis
Source: Foundations of Science, Volume 5, Number 2, 2000 , pp. 239-253(15)
Abstract:The remarkable transition from helpless infant to sophisticated five-year-old has long captured the attention of scholars interested in the discovery of knowledge. To explain these achievements, developmental psychologists often compare children's discovery procedures to those of professional scientists. For the child to be qualified as a ``little scientist'', however, intellectual development must be shown to derive from rational hypothesis selection in the face of evidence. In the present paper we focus on one dimension of rational theory-choice, namely, the relation between hypothesis confirmation and evidence diversity. Psychological research suggests cultural variability in appreciating evidence diversity and lack of such appreciation by young children. Before reaching conclusions about the ``little scientist'' thesis, however, it is essential to normatively analyze the diversity issue. We undertake such an analysis within a Bayesian perspective.
Document Type: Regular Paper
Publication date: January 1, 2000