Piaget’s Interview Methods: From Clinical to Critical

In Jean Piaget’s epistemology, evidence is required about the formation of knowing during childhood. To that end, he used two interview methods, calling one in 1929 a “clinical method,” dealing with different kinds of belief, and the other revised in 1947 to become a “critical method,” dealing with advances from practical to conceptual knowledge, knowing-how to knowing-that. These methods are typically merged in commentary, yet their difference is substantive. Experiments are central to both, suitably constrained for the analysis of children’s understanding of truth and necessity, the major epistemic attributes of knowledge. This entry discusses both the clinical and critical methods and includes a brief critique of Piaget’s approach.

Piaget’s rationale for experimentation is standard in that scientific evidence requires objective and public methods. But he ...

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