Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Open Peer Commentary

Don't throw the baby out with the math water: Why discounting the developmental foundations of early numeracy is premature and unnecessary

Kevin Muldoona1, Charlie Lewisa2 and Norman Freemana3

a1 School of Life Sciences, Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh EH14 4AS, United Kingdom

a2 Centre for Research in Human Development, Psychology Department, Fylde College, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YW, United Kingdom

a3 Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1TH, United Kingdom


We see no grounds for insisting that, because the concept natural number is abstract, its foundations must be innate. It is possible to specify domain general learning processes that feed into more abstract concepts of numerical infinity. By neglecting the messiness of children's slow acquisition of arithmetical concepts, Rips et al. present an idealized, unnecessarily insular, view of number development.

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