Social cognitive abilities in infancy: Is mindreading the best explanation?

Philosophical Psychology 28 (3):387-411 (2015)
Abstract
I discuss three arguments that have been advanced in support of the epistemic mentalist view, i.e., the view that infants' social cognitive abilities manifest a capacity to attribute beliefs. The argument from implicitness holds that SCAs already reflect the possession of an “implicit” and “rudimentary” capacity to attribute representational states. Against it, I note that SCAs are significantly limited, and have likely evolved to respond to contextual information in situated interaction with others. I challenge the argument from parsimony by claiming that parsimony per se favors neither a mentalist nor a behavior-reading account. Finally, I argue that early SCAs do not develop continuously into four-year-olds' belief attribution abilities. Accordingly, the argument from developmental continuity is empirically inadequate. Careful analysis of both the empirical data and the theoretical assumptions leading to the epistemic mentalist view is needed in order to improve our understanding of SCAs in earl..
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DOI 10.1080/09515089.2013.865096
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