Authors
Emma Borg
University of Reading
Abstract
A common deflationary tendency has emerged recently in both philosophical accounts and comparative animal studies concerned with how subjects understand the actions of others. The suggestion emerging from both arenas is that the default mechanism for understanding action involves only a sensitivity to the observable, behavioural features of a situation. This kind of ‘smart behaviour reading’ thus suggests that, typically, predicting or explaining the behaviour of conspecifics does not require seeing the other through the lens of mental state attribution. This paper aims to explore and assess this deflationary move. In §1 I clarify what might be involved in a smart behaviour reading account via looking at some concrete examples. Then in §2 I critically assess the deflationary move, arguing that, at least in the human case, it would in fact be a mistake to assume that our default method of action understanding proceeds without appeal to mental state attribution. Finally in §3 I consider briefly how the positive view proposed here relates to discussions about standard two-system models of cognition.
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DOI 10.1007/s13164-018-0386-3
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Thinking, Fast and Slow.Daniel Kahneman - 2011 - New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
Does the Chimpanzee Have a Theory of Mind?David Premack & G. Woodruff - 1978 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 4 (4):515-629.

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