Learning the Natural Numbers as a Child

Buijsman, Stefan | 2019

Noûs 53 (1), 3-22

Abstract

How do we get out knowledge of the natural numbers? Various philosophical accounts exist, but there has been comparatively little attention to psychological data on how the learning process actually takes place. I work through the psychological literature on number acquisition with the aim of characterising the acquisition stages in formal terms. In doing so, I argue that we need a combination of current neologicist accounts and accounts such as that of Parsons. In particular, I argue that we learn the initial segment of the natural numbers on the basis of the Fregean definitions, but do not learn the natural number structure as a whole on the basis of Hume's principle. Therefore, we need to account for some of the consistency of our number concepts with the Dedekind‐Peano axioms in other terms.

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Noûs 53 (1), 3-22

Abstract

How do we get out knowledge of the natural numbers? Various philosophical accounts exist, but there has been comparatively little attention to psychological data on how the learning process actually takes place. I work through the psychological literature on number acquisition with the aim of characterising the acquisition stages in formal terms. In doing so, I argue that we need a combination of current neologicist accounts and accounts such as that of Parsons. In particular, I argue that we learn the initial segment of the natural numbers on the basis of the Fregean definitions, but do not learn the natural number structure as a whole on the basis of Hume's principle. Therefore, we need to account for some of the consistency of our number concepts with the Dedekind‐Peano axioms in other terms.

Läs artkeln här