Folk Psychology without Theory or Simulation

In D. Hutto & M. Ratcliffe (eds.), Folk Psychology Reassessed. Springer. pp. 115--135 (2007)

Authors
Daniel D. Hutto
University of Wollongong
Abstract
This paper spells out just how the Narrative Practice Hypothesis, if true, undercuts any need to appeal to either theory or simulation when it comes to explaining the basis of folk psychological understanding: these heuristics do not come into play other than in cases of in which the framework is used to speculate about why another may have acted. To add appropriate force to this observation, I first say something about why we should reject the widely held assumption that the primary business of folk psychology is to provide third-personal predictions and explanations. I then go on to demonstrate how the NPH can account for (i) the structural features of folk psychology and (ii) its staged acquisition without buying into the idea that it is a theory, or that it is acquired by means of constructing one. This should expose the impotence of the standard reasons for believing that folk psychology must be a kind of theory. In the concluding postscript, I acknowledge that we need more than the folk psychological framework to understand how we understand reasons, but I deny that this something more takes the form of a theory about propositional attitudes or simulative procedures for manipulating them. For example, I claim it rests in part on a capacity for co-cognition, inter alia, since that ability is necessary for understanding another’s thoughts. Nevertheless, I deny that co-cognition equates to simulation proper or that it plays anything more than a supporting role in understanding reasons for action.
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