Mindreading and the cognitive architecture underlying altruistic motivation

Mind and Language 16 (4):425-455 (2001)
In recent attempts to characterize the cognitive mechanisms underlying altruistic motivation, one central question is the extent to which the capacity for altruism depends on the capacity for understanding other minds, or ‘mindreading’. Some theorists maintain that the capacity for altruism is independent of any capacity for mindreading; others maintain that the capacity for altruism depends on fairly sophisticated mindreading skills. I argue that none of the prevailing accounts is adequate. Rather, I argue that altruistic motivation depends on a basic affective system, a ‘Concern Mechanism’, which requires only a minimal capacity for mindreading
Keywords Altruism  Cognitive Science  Metaphysics  Mind Reading  Other Minds
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DOI 10.1111/1468-0017.00178
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