Beyond the Building Blocks Model

Behavioral and Brain Sciences 34 (3):139-140 (2011)
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This article is a commentary on Carey (2009) The Origin of Concepts. Carey rightly rejects the building blocks model of concept acquisition on the grounds that new primitive concepts can be learned via the process of bootstrapping. But new primitives can be learned by other acquisition processes that do not involve bootstrapping, and bootstrapping itself is not a unitary process. Nonetheless, the processes associated with bootstrapping provide important insights into conceptual change.

Author Profiles

Eric Margolis
University of British Columbia
Stephen Laurence
University of Sheffield


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