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Learning and the Social Nature of Mental Powers

Davis, A.J.



Over the last two decades the traditional conception of intelligence and other mental powers as stable individual assets has been challenged by approaches in psychology emphasising context and 'situated cognition'. This paper argues that the debate should not be seen as an empirical dispute, and relates it to discussions in philosophy of mind between methodological solipsists and varieties of externalists. In the light of this I argue that attempts to conceptualise the identity over time of mental powers qua individual assets run into intractable difficulties. Hence 'individual asset' views of many abilities should be abandoned. Implications for education policy particularly in regard to assessment are explored.


Davis, A. (2005). Learning and the Social Nature of Mental Powers. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 37(5), 635-647.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2005-10
Deposit Date Jul 7, 2008
Journal Educational Philosophy and Theory
Print ISSN 0013-1857
Electronic ISSN 1469-5812
Publisher Taylor and Francis Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 37
Issue 5
Pages 635-647
Keywords Ability, Intelligence, Situated cognition, Assessment.