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Category-Based Induction

  • By: Vladimir M. Sloutsky & Anna V. Fisher
  • In: Encyclopedia of Language Development
  • Edited by: Patricia J. Brooks & Vera Kempe
  • Subject:Language Development, Language & Communication

Induction refers to a mode of thinking in which a prediction is made on the basis of one or more observations. For example, a child might predict that a just-encountered cat will meow because the child observed other cats meowing. However, predictions based on a limited number of observations are fundamentally indeterminate. Is it possible that some, but not all, cats meow? Is it possible that all mammals or even all animals meow? To address these difficulties, in the 1950s and 1960s, mathematicians and logicians developed optimal ways of making such predictions that are based on assumptions about how previous examples were sampled, what the underlying statistical distribution might be, and the Bayes theorem. While it is unlikely that children engage in such sophisticated calculations, ...

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