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The Nature and Scope of Genetic Epistemology

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 April 2022

Richard F. Kitchener*
Affiliation:
Department of Philosophy, Colorado State University

Abstract

Although the theory of Jean Piaget is correctly characterized as genetic epistemology, its nature and scope remain unclear and controversial. An examination of Piaget's Introduction à l'épistémologie génétique indicates that Piaget relies heavily upon a model of comparative anatomy and, consequently, that genetic epistemology is about both the history of science and individual development. This biological model seems to be the basis for Piaget's view that the history of science can be seen as a (Kantian) history of scientific concepts whereas psychogenetic development is a history of these very same concepts on the individual level. Finally, although there are passages indicating a different interpretation of the scope of genetic epistemology, I give several reasons for preferring the more liberal interpretation.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © 1981 by the Philosophy of Science Association

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Footnotes

I wish to thank Guy Cellerier, Pat McKee and Pierre Moessinger whose comments about the issues discussed in this paper have been very helpful. I also wish to thank two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.

References

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