Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/187490
Title:
The nature and development of the teleological stance.
Author:
Kelemen, Deborah Ann.
Issue Date:
1996
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
Teleological reasoning--reasoning that is based on the assumption of purpose, design or function--is a fundamental aspect of adult cognition. It leads us to think about the actions of others in terms of goals and to presume that people's creations are designed for a purpose. It also causes us to reason about biological entities in terms of functions and characterizes much of our metaphysical musing on life and meaning. This dissertation explores the nature and development of teleological thought in preschool children. One hypothesis ("Biology-Based Teleology") is that teleological thinking is an innate mode of construal which is limited to artifacts (such as clocks) and biological traits (such as eyes) and provides children with the core of a biological theory. This dissertation presents an alternative proposal ("Promiscuous Teleology"). It argues that children's teleological understanding develops from knowledge of intentional goal-directed behavior and is not inherently restricted to any particular category of phenomena. In the absence of scientific knowledge, children may draw upon intention-based teleological knowledge and--as many adults have done in the past--view all kinds or phenomena as intentionally caused for a purpose. Several studies are presented that explore the predictions of Promiscuous Teleology and Biology-Based Teleology regarding the scope of children's and adults' attribution of function to different kinds of entities and their parts. These studies lend support to the notion that children's teleological intuitions are unconstrained. In other words, that preschoolers broadly view natural objects (e.g., mountains), artifacts (e.g., clocks) and biological organisms (e.g., tigers) and their parts as "made for something." Further studies then explored possible explanations for these results by examining the relationship between children's and adults' concept of function. The findings suggest that children's beliefs about function are more influenced by the degree of intention involved in an activity than adults. The implications of these findings for notions of a "teleological stance" are discussed.
Type:
text; Dissertation-Reproduction (electronic)
Degree Name:
Ph.D.
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Psychology; Graduate College
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Committee Chair:
Bloom, Paul

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoenen_US
dc.titleThe nature and development of the teleological stance.en_US
dc.creatorKelemen, Deborah Ann.en_US
dc.contributor.authorKelemen, Deborah Ann.en_US
dc.date.issued1996en_US
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.abstractTeleological reasoning--reasoning that is based on the assumption of purpose, design or function--is a fundamental aspect of adult cognition. It leads us to think about the actions of others in terms of goals and to presume that people's creations are designed for a purpose. It also causes us to reason about biological entities in terms of functions and characterizes much of our metaphysical musing on life and meaning. This dissertation explores the nature and development of teleological thought in preschool children. One hypothesis ("Biology-Based Teleology") is that teleological thinking is an innate mode of construal which is limited to artifacts (such as clocks) and biological traits (such as eyes) and provides children with the core of a biological theory. This dissertation presents an alternative proposal ("Promiscuous Teleology"). It argues that children's teleological understanding develops from knowledge of intentional goal-directed behavior and is not inherently restricted to any particular category of phenomena. In the absence of scientific knowledge, children may draw upon intention-based teleological knowledge and--as many adults have done in the past--view all kinds or phenomena as intentionally caused for a purpose. Several studies are presented that explore the predictions of Promiscuous Teleology and Biology-Based Teleology regarding the scope of children's and adults' attribution of function to different kinds of entities and their parts. These studies lend support to the notion that children's teleological intuitions are unconstrained. In other words, that preschoolers broadly view natural objects (e.g., mountains), artifacts (e.g., clocks) and biological organisms (e.g., tigers) and their parts as "made for something." Further studies then explored possible explanations for these results by examining the relationship between children's and adults' concept of function. The findings suggest that children's beliefs about function are more influenced by the degree of intention involved in an activity than adults. The implications of these findings for notions of a "teleological stance" are discussed.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeDissertation-Reproduction (electronic)en_US
thesis.degree.namePh.D.en_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplinePsychologyen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.chairBloom, Paulen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberWynn, Karenen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberRosser, Rosemaryen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberPeterson, Maryen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberIttelson, Williamen_US
dc.identifier.proquest9626522en_US
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