In the course of explaining and anticipating thought and action, we characterize both ourselves and others in mental terms, e.g. as "believing the bus departs at ten" or "wanting to go swimming". The ability to characterize oneself and others in such terms is central to understanding persons. It underwrites the self-attribution of beliefs, desires, emotions and other conscious, occurrent "mental states" (MS) and subserves MS-attribution to others. How do ordinary people understand the contents of mental state concepts like belief or desire? Philosophers of mind and cognitive scientists have put forward answers based on theory-theory (TT), modularity theory (MT) and simulation theory (ST). Before examining how these approaches explain the contents of MS-concepts, two widespread assumptions concerning everyday psychological attributions should be discussed
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