Publication 4831

Lourenço O. & Machado A. (1996) In defense of Piaget’s theory: A reply to 10 common criticisms. Psychological Review 103(1): 143–164. Fulltext at
The developmental theory of Jean Piaget has been criticized on the grounds that it is conceptually limited, empirically false, or philosophically and epistemologically untenable. This study attempts to rebut these criticisms by showing that most of them (a) derive from widespread misinterpretations of the work of Piaget; (b) fail to appreciate the 2 central issues of his thinking – how new forms of thinking emerge during ontogenesis and how they become psychologically necessary; (c) incorrectly assume that many controversies concerning his theory can be settled empirically or methodologically before they are clarified conceptually; (d) ignore various modifications of Piagetian theory, particularly those advanced after 1970; and (e) forget the dialectical, constructivist, and developmental nature of Piaget’s unique approach to human development. Although the authors do not claim there is a “true” Piaget to be discovered, or that the problems with his theory vanish when it is better understood, they do claim that important aspects of Piaget’s work have not been assimilated by developmental psychologists.

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