Viewing Others as Equals: the Non-cognitive Roots of Shared Intentionality

Review of Philosophy and Psychology 9 (3):485-502 (2018)
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Abstract

We propose two adjustments to the classic view of shared intentionality as based on conceptual-level cognitive skills. The first one takes into account that infants and young children display this capacity, but lack conceptual-level cognitive skills. The second one seeks to integrate cognitive and non-cognitive skills into that capacity. This second adjustment is motivated by two facts. First, there is an enormous difference between human infants and our closest living primate relatives with respect to the range and scale of goal sharing and cooperation. Second, recent evidence suggests that there are hardly any differences in their mental-state attribution capacities. We argue therefore that our distinctively human capacity for shared intentionality is due to the effect on our cognitive skills of a practical attitude. Accordingly, we propose that cognitive and practical skills, working together, produce our capacity for shared intentionality, and review evidence suggesting that the practical skill in question consists in the ability to adopt an attitude of equality.

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