The triumph of a reasonable man: Stich, mindreading, and nativism

In Michael A. Bishop & Dominic Murphy (eds.), Stich and His Critics. Blackwell 14--152 (2004)
Humans interpret others. We are able to anticipate both the actions and intentional states of other agents. We do not do so perfectly, but since we are complex and flexible creatures even limited success needs explanation. For some years now Steve Stich (frequently in collaboration with Shaun Nichols) has been both participant in, and observer of, debates about the foundation of these capacities (Stich and Nichols 1992; Stich and Nichols 1995). As a commentator on this debate, Stich (with Nichols) gave explicit and fair-minded sketches of the cognitive architectures presupposed by the various theories of mindreading. As a participant, Stich has mostly been a defender of the theory-theory, the view that normal human agents have an internally represented theory of other agents and they use that theory in interpreting other agents. The main recent rival to this position, simulationism, claims that agents use their own decision-making mechanisms as a model of those of other agents, and derive their predictions by modelling others in something like the way aeronautical engineers derive predictions from the use of scale models in wind-tunnels. Stich has been sceptical about this alternative, for on his view simulation theory makes mistaken predictions about both the development of interpretive competence and about the pattern of interpretive success and failure
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