The diversity principle and the little scientist hypothesis

Riccardo Viale, Daniel Osherson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-253
Number of pages15
JournalFoundations of Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General
  • History and Philosophy of Science


  • Bayesianism
  • Confirmation
  • Evidence
  • Psychology


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