Does the number sense represent number?

AbstractOn a now orthodox view, humans and many other animals are endowed with a “number sense”, or approximate number system (ANS), that represents number. Recently, this orthodox view has been subject to numerous critiques, with critics maintaining either that numerical content is absent altogether, or else that some primitive analog of number (‘numerosity’) is represented as opposed to number itself. We distinguish three arguments for these claims – the arguments from congruency, confounds, and imprecision – and show that none succeed. We then highlight positive reasons for thinking that the ANS genuinely represents numbers. The upshot is that proponents of the orthodox view should not feel troubled by recent critiques of their position.

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