Conceptual Development: Piaget's Legacy, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Conceptual Development

Piaget's Legacy, 1st Edition

Edited by Ellin Kofsky Scholnick, Katherine Nelson, Susan A. Gelman, Patricia H. Miller

Psychology Press

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This book examines a key issue in current cognitive theories - the nature of representation. Each chapter is characterized by attempts to frame hot topics in cognitive development within the landscape of current developmental theorizing and the past legacy of genetic epistemology. The chapters address four questions that are fundamental to any developmental line of inquiry:

  • How should we represent the workings and contents of the mind?
  • How does the child construct mental models during the course of development?
  • What are the origins of these models? and
  • What accounts for the novelties that are the products and producers of developmental change?

These questions are situated in a historical context, Piagetian theory, and contemporary researchers attempt to trace how they draw upon, depart from, and transform the Piagetian legacy to revisit classic issues such as the child's awareness of the workings of mental life, the child's ability to represent the world, and the child's growing ability to process and learn from experience. The theoretical perspectives covered include constructivism, connectionism, theory-theory, information processing, dynamical systems, and social constructivist approaches. The research areas span imitation, mathematical reasoning, biological knowledge, language development, and theory of mind.

Written by major contributors to the field, this work will be of interest to students and researchers wanting a brief but in-depth overview of the contemporary field of cognitive development.


"The book is highly commended to readers interested in the area of conceptual and cognitive development, in particular, to those searching for alternatives to Piaget's theory."

Contemporary Psychology

"This is first-rate collection. I learned a lot from its papers, several of which are already on the reading list for my…courses. Since every chapter provides an expert's summary of recent research in central areas of conceptual development, these are a real bonus. Even better are the keen analyses and critical commentaries on offer in some abundance to keep researchers' minds on over-drive. To repeat: read this first-rate collection whose editors have done a good job in bringing together this splendid team. In fact, read it from cover to cover."

British Journal of Educational Psychology

"…an admirable job of presenting the diversity and scope of research on coneptual development….With this collection, the editors have provided both an impetus to revisit basic questions in the field as well as an excellent resource for addressing them."

Human Development

Table of Contents

Contents: M. Chandler, Foreword. E.K. Scholnick, Piaget's Legacy: Heirs to the House That Jean Built. Part I:How Should We Represent the Workings and Contents of the Mind? R. Case, Conceptual Development in the Child and in the Field: A Personal View of the Piagetian Legacy. A.N. Meltzoff, M.K. Moore, A New Foundation for Cognitive Development in Infancy: The Birth of the Representational Infant. S.A. Gelman, G. Diesendruck, A Reconsideration of Concepts: On the Compatibility of Psychological Essentialism and Context Sensitivity. F.C. Keil, K.L. Lockhart, Explanatory Understanding in Conceptual Development. D. Klahr, The Conceptual Habitat: In What Kind of System Can Concepts Develop? Part II:How Does the Child Construct a Mental Model During the Course of Development? What Is the Developmental Origin of This Model? R. Garcia, A Systemic Interpretation of Piaget's Theory of Knowledge. S. Oyama, Locating Development: Locating Developmental Systems. P.H. Miller, T.R. Coyle, Developmental Change: Lessons From Microgenesis. Part III:What Accounts for the Novelties That Are the Products and Producers of Developmental Change? J. Voneche, The Origin of Piaget's Ideas About Genesis and Development. G.B. Saxe, Sources of Concepts: A Cultural-Developmental Perspective. K. Nelson, Levels and Modes of Representation: Issues for the Theory of Conceptual Change and Development. S. Carey, Sources of Conceptual Change.

About the Series

Jean Piaget Symposia Series

Each year, following their annual meeting, the Jean Piaget Society publishes an edited volume.  This approximately 300-page volume covers the main themes of the symposium and is published by Psychology Press.

Members of the society receive the volume free of charge. Non-members can order copies from this website.

About the Jean Piaget Society

The Jean Piaget Society, established in 1970, has an international, interdisciplinary membership of scholars, teachers and researchers interested in exploring the nature of the developmental construction of human knowledge. The Society was named in honor of the Swiss developmentalist, Jean Piaget, who made major theoretical and empirical contributions to our understanding of the origins and evolution of knowledge.

The Society's aim is to provide an open forum, through symposia, books, our journal, and other publications, for the presentation and discussion of scholarly work on issues related to human knowledge and its development. The Society further encourages the application of advances in the understanding of development to education and other domains.

In 1989, the name of the Society was changed to Jean Piaget Society: Society for the Study of Knowledge and Development.

You can find out more on the Jean Piaget Society website at .

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Developmental / General