Evaluate the argument that numerical knowledge is present during early infancy The argument that young infants

possess numerical knowledge is a relatively recent one and is one that has provoked much debate. The most intensely contested aspect of this argument is whether infants posses the ability to perform arithmetic calculations. The key proponent of the argument in favour of arithmetic ability in early infancy is Wynn who observed that very young infants were capable of addition and subtraction with very small set samples (Wynn, 1992). It has been noted that some researchers have been able to replicate Wynn’s findings whereas others have not (e.g. Wakeley et al, 2000). Opponent of Wynn’s argument would take this as a sign that the phenomenon in question is either not robust, or entirely a product of Wynn’s specific experimental situation; Wynn argues that the inconsistency in findings reflects how rich the phenomenon is and that there is an orderly pattern in the findings that reflects this. A more significant challenge has presented itself in studies that show even young children performing poorly in tasks demanding basic numerical reasoning such as counting ability. Wynn and supporters would again argue that this relates to the insensitivity of the task. The chief argument for the presence of numerical knowledge in early infancy can be seen as proposing that numerical knowledge is innate. I argue that the evidence for this line of reasoning is very tentative and that the argument itself is of little value to trying to understand infant development.

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