Bundles of contradiction: A coexistence view of conceptual change


Shtulman, A., & Lombrozo, T. (2016). Bundles of contradiction: A coexistence view of conceptual change. In D. Barner & A. S. Baron (Ed.), Core knowledge and conceptual change (pp. 53–71) . Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.


Natural phenomena, such as illness or adaptation, can be explained in many ways. Typically, this many-to-one mapping between explanations and the phenomena they explain is construed as a source of tension between scientific and religious explanations (e.g., creationism vs. evolution) or between different forms of scientific explanation (e.g., Lamarck’s vs. Darwin’s theory of evolution). However, recent research suggests that competing explanations exist not only across individuals within the same community, but also within individuals themselves, who maintain competing explanations. Here, we explore this phenomenon of “explanatory coexistence” and analyze its implications for conceptual change, or knowledge restructuring at the level of individual concepts. We argue that conceptual change is often better construed as a process of augmentation, in which early-developing concepts coexist with later-developing concepts because both types of concepts remain useful for predicting and explaining the natural world, albeit in different circumstances or for different purposes.

See also: Book Chapter
Last updated on 09/06/2019