It is widely believed that the primary function of folkpsychology lies in the prediction, explanation and control of behavior. A question arises, however, as to whether folkpsychology has also been shaped in fundamental ways by the various other roles it plays in people’s lives. Here I approach that question by considering one particular aspect of folkpsychology – the distinction between intentional and unintentional behaviors. The aim is to determine whether this distinction (...) is best understood as a tool used in prediction, explanation and control or whether it has been shaped in fundamental ways by some other aspect of its use. (shrink)
I discuss the possibility that there is no intrinsic unity to the capacities which are bundled under the label "folkpsychology". Cooperative skills, attributional skills, and predictive skills may be scattered as parts of other non--psychological capacities. I discuss how some forms of social life bring these different skills together. I end with some remarks on how abilities that are not unified in their essential mechanisms may still form a rough practical unity. (Remark: the paper is conjectural. It (...) describes a possibility to take seriously rather than a conclusion of which I am convinced.). (shrink)
When we ask the question whether animals have their own folkpsychology, we’re asking whether any other species has a commonsense conception of psychological phenomenon. Different versions of this question have been discussed over the past 25 years, but no clear answer has emerged. Perhaps one reason for this lack of progress is that we don’t clearly understand the question. I defend a two-fold view of folkpsychology that takes as central the capacity to engage in (...) some folk psychological practices (e.g. predicting, explaining, coordinating, justifying, etc.) and the capacity to see another as minded. Given this account, I argue that chimpanzees, as intentional agents who engage in folk psychological practices and have some understanding of others as minded agents, are folk psychologists. -/- . (shrink)
The central mission of cognitive science is to reveal the real nature of the mind, however familiar or foreign that nature may be to naive preconceptions. The existence of naive conceptions is also important, however. Prescientific thought and language contain concepts of the mental, and these concepts deserve attention from cognitive science. Just as scientific psychology studies folk physics (McCloskey 1983, Hayes 1985), viz., the common understanding (or misunderstanding) of physical phenomena, so it must study folk (...) class='Hi'>psychology, the common understanding of mental states. This subfield of scientific psychology is what I mean by the phrase 'the psychology of folkpsychology'. (shrink)
I discussed the ways in which folkpsychology is influenced by the need for small-scale cooperation between people. I argue that considerations about cooperation and mutual benefit can be found in the everyday concepts of belief, desire, and motivation. I describe what I call "solution thinking", where a person anticipates another person's actions by first determining the solution to the cooperative problem that the person faces and then reasoning backwards to a prediction of individual action.
Four experiments examined people’s folk-psychological concept of intentional action. The chief question was whether or not _evaluative _considerations — considerations of good and bad, right and wrong, praise and blame — played any role in that concept. The results indicated that the moral qualities of a behavior strongly influence people’s judgements as to whether or not that behavior should be considered ‘intentional.’ After eliminating a number of alternative explanations, the author concludes that this effect is best explained by the (...) hypothesis that evaluative considerations do play some role in people’s concept of intentional action.<b> </b>. (shrink)
Whilst much has been said about the implications of predictive processing for our scientific understanding of cognition, there has been comparatively little discussion of how this new paradigm fits with our everyday understanding of the mind, i.e. folkpsychology. This paper aims to assess the relationship between folkpsychology and predictive processing, which will first require making a distinction between two ways of understanding folkpsychology: as propositional attitude psychology and as a broader (...)folk psychological discourse. It will be argued that folkpsychology in this broader sense is compatible with predictive processing, despite the fact that there is an apparent incompatibility between predictive processing and a literalist interpretation of propositional attitude psychology. The distinction between these two kinds of folkpsychology allows us to accept that our scientific usage of folk concepts requires revision, whilst rejecting the suggestion that we should eliminate folkpsychology entirely. (shrink)
I argue that everyday folk-psychological skill might best be explained in terms of the deployment of something like a model, in a specific sense drawn from recent philosophy of science. Theoretical models in this sense do not make definite commitments about the systems they are used to understand; they are employed with a particular kind of flexibility. This analysis is used to dissolve the eliminativism debate of the 1980s, and to transform a number of other questions about the status (...) and role of folkpsychology. (shrink)
Is behavioral integration (i.e., which occurs when a subjects assertion that p matches her non-verbal behavior) a necessary feature of belief in folkpsychology? Our data from nearly 6,000 people across twenty-six samples, spanning twenty-two countries suggests that it is not. Given the surprising cross-cultural robustness of our findings, we suggest that the types of evidence for the ascription of a belief are, at least in some circumstances, lexicographically ordered: assertions are first taken into account, and when an (...) agent sincerely asserts that p, non-linguistic behavioral evidence is disregarded. In light of this, we take ourselves to have discovered a universal principle governing the ascription of beliefs in folkpsychology. (shrink)
This paper promotes the view that our childhood engagement with narratives of a certain kind is the basis of sophisticated folk psychological abilities —i.e. it is through such socially scaffolded means that folk psychological skills are normally acquired and fostered. Undeniably, we often use our folk psychological apparatus in speculating about why another may have acted on a particular occasion, but this is at best a peripheral and parasitic use. Our primary understanding and skill in folk (...)psychology derives from and has its primary application in special kinds of second-personal engagements. (shrink)
Ramsey, Stick and Garon (1991) argue that if the correct theory of mind is some parallel distributed processing theory, then folkpsychology must be false. Their idea is that if the nodes and connections that encode one representation are causally active then all representations encoded by the same set of nodes and connections are also causally active. We present a clear, and concrete, counterexample to RSG's argument. In conclusion, we suggest that folkpsychology and connectionism are (...) best understood as complementary theories. Each has different limitations, yet each will co-evolve with the other in an overlapping domain of 'normal' psychology. (shrink)
In this paper it is argued that we would not be logically obliged or rationally inclined to reject the ontology of contentful psychological states postulated by folkpsychology even if the explanations advanced by folkpsychology turned out to be generally inaccurate or inadequate. Moreover, it is argued that eliminativists such as Paul Churchland do not establish that folk psychological explanations are, or are likely to prove, generally inaccurate or inadequate. Most of Churchland's arguments—based upon (...) developments within connectionist neuroscience—only cast doubt upon the adequacy of 'sentential' theories of cognitive processing, not upon scientifically developed forms of folk psychological explanation of behavior, such as those offered by contemporary social psychology. Finally, it is noted that Churchland's brand of eliminativism rests upon a crude reductive criterion of theoretical adequacy that has little to recommend it, and suggested that the recognized theoretical limitations of contemporary social psychology may be precisely due to its historical commitment to this reductive criterion. (shrink)
Daniel Dennett (1991) has advanced a mild realism in which beliefs are described as patterns “discernible in agents' (observable) behavior” (p. 30). I clarify the conflict between this otherwise attractive theory and the strong realist view that beliefs are internal states that cause actions. Support for strong realism is sometimes derived from the assumption that the everyday psychology of the folk is committed to it. My main thesis here is that we have sufficient reason neither for strong realism (...) nor for the supporting assumption about the commitments of folkpsychology. Several generally implicit arguments in support of the latter assumption are considered. Explicit arguments for it by Ramsey et al. (1990) and Wellman (1990) are examined and judged unsuccessful. An explicit argument for strong realism by Cummins (in conversation) is also found inadequate. Consideration of this latter argument helps to explain why we cannot be satisfied with Dennett's own very brief discussion of causation by beliefs. (shrink)
This article describes two uses of folkpsychology in scientific psychology. Use 1 deals with the way in which folk theories and beliefs are imported into social psychological models on the basis that they exert causal influences on cognition or behavior (regardless of their validity or scientific usefulness). Use 2 describes the practice of mining elements from folkpsychology for building an overarching psychological theory that goes beyond common sense (and assumes such elements are (...) valid or scientifically useful). This distinction is then applied to both common practices within psychology and the philosophical arguments concerning the scientific validity of folkpsychology. Adopting a social psychological perspective, I argue that (a) the two uses are often conflated in psychology with deleterious consequences; and (b) that the arguments for the elimination of folkpsychology as a basis for scientific psychology presented by Churchland and others, are weakened by the failure to attend to this distinction. (shrink)
It has often been argued, by philosophers and more recently by developmental psychologists, that our common-sense conception of the mind should be regarded as a scientific theory. However, those who advance this view rarely say much about what they take a scientific theory to be. In this paper, I look at one specific proposal as to how we should interpret the theory view of folkpsychology--namely, by seeing it as having a structure analogous to that of a Lakatosian (...) research program. I argue that although the Lakatosian model may seem promising--particularly to those who are interested in studying the development of children's understanding of the mind--the analogy between Lakatosian research programs and folkpsychology cannot be made good because folkpsychology does not possess anything analogous to the positive heuristic of a Lakatosian research program. I also argue that Lakatos' account of theories may not be the best one for developmental psychologists to adopt because of the emphasis which Lakatos places on the social embeddedness of scientific theorising. (shrink)
In this paper I examine the analogical argument that the use that is made of propositions in folkpsychology in the characterisation of propositional attitudes is no more puzzling than the use that is made of numbers in the physical sciences in the measurement of physical properties. It has been argued that the result of this analogy is that there is no need to postulate the existence of sentences in a language of thought which underpin the propositional characterisation (...) of propositional attitudes in order to provide a naturalistic account of their use. I argue that a closer examination of the analogy implies rather than avoids the existence of structured representations constituting a language of thought, and thus that it should be abandoned by those who wish to avoid the postulation of such internal representations. (shrink)
Mindreading (or folkpsychology, Theory of Mind, mentalizing) is the capacity to represent and reason about others’ mental states. The Simulation Theory (ST) is one of the main approaches to mindreading. ST draws on the common-sense idea that we represent and reason about others’ mental states by putting ourselves in their shoes. More precisely, we typically arrive at representing others’ mental states by simulating their mental states in our own mind. This entry offers a detailed analysis of ST, (...) considers theoretical arguments and empirical data in favour of and against it, discusses its philosophical implications, and illustrates some alternatives to it. (shrink)
This paper disputes the claim that our understanding of others is enabled by a commonsense or ‘folk’ psychology, whose ‘core’ involves the attribution of intentional states in order to predict and explain behaviour. I argue that interpersonal understanding is seldom, if ever, a matter of two people assigning intentional states to each other but emerges out of a context of interaction between them. Self and other form a coupled system rather than two wholly separate entities equipped with an (...) internalised capacity to assign mental states to the other. This applies even in those instances where one might seem to adopt a ‘detached’ perspective towards others. Thus ‘folkpsychology’, as commonly construed, is not folkpsychology. (shrink)
I suggest a pluralistic account of folkpsychology according to which not all predictions or explanations rely on the attribution of mental states, and not all intentional actions are explained by mental states. This view of folkpsychology is supported by research in developmental and social psychology. It is well known that people use personality traits to predict behavior. I argue that trait attribution is not shorthand for mental state attributions, since traits are not identical (...) to beliefs or desires, and an understanding of belief or desire is not necessary for using trait attributions. In addition, we sometimes predict and explain behavior through appeal to personality traits that the target wouldn't endorse, and so could not serve as the target's reasons. I conclude by suggesting that our folkpsychology includes the notion that some behavior is explained by personality traits—who the person is—rather than by beliefs and desires—what the person thinks. Consequences of this view for the debate between simulation theory and theory theory, as well as the debate on chimpanzee theory of mind are discussed. (shrink)
I argue that folkpsychology does not serve the purpose of facilitating prediction of others' behaviour but if facilitating cooperative action. (See my subsequent book *The Importance of Being Understood*.
My topic in this paper is social understanding. By this I mean the cognitive skills underlying social behaviour and social coordination. Normal, encultured, non-autistic and non-brain-damaged human beings are capable of an impressive degree of social coordination. We navigate the social world with a level of skill and dexterity fully comparable to that which we manifest in navigating the physical world. In neither sphere, one might think, would it be a trivial matter to identify the various competences which underly this (...) impressive level of performance. Nonetheless, at least as far as interpersonal interactions are concerned, philosophers show a rare degree of unanimity. What grounds our success in these interactions is supposed to be our common mastery of folkpsychology. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to present a challenge to the received view in folkpsychology. According to this challenge, the semantic assumption behind the received view, which considers that propositional attitude ascriptions are descriptions of the internal causally efficacious states underlying behavior, cannot account for the main function of reasons in terms of mental states.
In this paper, I aim to determine to what extent contemporary cross-cultural and developmental research can shed light on the role that narrative practices might play in the development of folkpsychology. In particular, I focus on the role of narrative practices in the development of false belief understanding, which has been regarded as a milestone in the development of folkpsychology. Second, I aim to discuss possible cognitive procedures that may underlie successful performance in false (...) belief tasks. Methodologically, I distinguish between two kinds of narrative practices: ‘mentalistic narrative practice’, and ‘behavioral-contextual narrative practice’ behavior of another person in a specific socio-situational context). Whereas the former is more prevalent in Western cultures than in Eastern cultures, the latter is predominantly used by members of Eastern cultures. Mentalistic narrative practices correlate with cultural divergences in the development of false belief understanding throughout ontogeny but do not seem to play the key role. The analysis shows that conceptual change and the acquisition of mental state terms is essential for passing the false belief task, and that theory is likely to be the cognitive mechanism involved here such as proposed by Theory Theory. However, Hutto’s Narrative Practice Hypothesis trumps over Theory Theory to account for the varieties and ambiguities people typically meet when understanding each other in everyday life. (shrink)
In this paper, I address Mitchell Herschbach’s arguments against the phenomenological critics of folkpsychology. Central to Herschbach’s arguments is the introduction of Michael Wheeler’s distinction between ‘on-line’ and ‘off-line’ intelligence to the debate on social understanding. Herschbach uses this distinction to describe two arguments made by the phenomenological critics. The first is that folkpsychology is exclusively off-line and mentalistic. The second is that social understanding is on-line and non-mentalistic. To counter the phenomenological critics, Herschbach (...) argues for the existence of on-line false belief understanding. This demonstrates that folkpsychology is not restricted to off-line forms and that folkpsychology is more widespread than the phenomenological critics acknowledge. In response, I argue the on-line/off-line distinction is a problematic way of demarcating the phenomenological critics from orthodox accounts of folkpsychology. (shrink)
A standard view in contemporary philosophy is that belief is involuntary, either as a matter of conceptual necessity or as a contingent fact of human psychology. We present seven experiments on patterns in ordinary folk-psychological judgments about belief. The results provide strong evidence that voluntary belief is conceptually possible and, granted minimal charitable assumptions about folk-psychological competence, provide some evidence that voluntary belief is psychologically possible. We also consider two hypotheses in an attempt to understand why many (...) philosophers have been tempted to view belief as involuntary: that belief is a prototype concept and that belief is a dual character concept. Altogether, our findings contribute to longstanding philosophical debates about the relationship between the will and the intellect, while also advancing scientific understanding of important social judgments. (shrink)
This is a truly groundbreaking work that examines today’s notions of folkpsychology. Bringing together disciplines as various as cognitive science and anthropology, the authors analyze and question key assumptions about the nature, scope and function of folkpsychology.
There has been a long-standing interest in the putative roles that various so-called ‘theory of mind’ abilities might play in enabling us to understand and enjoy narratives. Of late, as our understanding of the complexity and diversity of everyday psychological capacities has become more nuanced and variegated, new possibilities have been articulated: (i) that our capacity for a sophisticated, everyday understanding of actions in terms of reason (our folkpsychology) may itself be best characterized as a kind of (...) narrative practice and (ii) that acquiring the capacity for supplying and digesting reasons explana- tions might (at least normally) depend upon having a special training with narratives. This introductory paper to the volume situates the claims of those who support the narrative approach to folkpsychology against the backdrop of some traditional and new thinking about intersubjectivity, social cognition and ‘theory of mind’ abilities. Special emphasis is laid on the different reasons for being interested in these claims about narrative practice and folkpsychology in light of various empirical and philosophical agendas. (shrink)
It has recently been argued that the success of the connectionist program in cognitive science would threaten folkpsychology. I articulate and defend a "minimalist" construal of folkpsychology that comports well with empirical evidence on the folk understanding of belief and is compatible with even the most radical developments in cognitive science.
One of the central explananda in the debate on social cognition is the interpretation of other people in terms of reasons for action. There is a growing dissatisfaction among participants in the debate concerning the descriptive adequacy of the traditional belief-desire model of action interpretation. Applying this model as an explanatory model at the subpersonal level threatens to leave the original explanandum largely unarticulated. Against this background we show how Brandom’s deontic scorekeeping model can be used as a valuable descriptive (...) tool for making folkpsychology explicit. Following Brandom’s non-formalist and non-mentalistic account of reason discourse, we suggest that the process of making sense of others is best captured as proceeding from a ‘factive’ baseline. According to this picture the ascription of beliefs and desires is not the default interpretation strategy, but rather the result of prior scaffolding of the agent’s deontic score. We close by discussing Brandom’s model in the light of empirical findings on the ontogeny of reason attribution. (shrink)
Proponents of mindshaping argue that third-person folkpsychology is not primarily about "reading" mental states for the purpose of behavior prediction and explanation. Instead, they claim that third-person folkpsychology is first and foremost a regulative practice -- one that "shapes" mental states in accordance with the norms of a shared folk psychological framework. This paper investigates to what extent the core assumptions behind the mindshaping hypothesis are compatible with an account of first-person folk (...)psychology that is based on the notion of "self-regulative agency.". (shrink)
Kristin Andrews proposes a new framework for thinking about folkpsychology, which she calls Pluralistic FolkPsychology. Her approach emphasizes kinds of psychological prediction and explanation that don't rest on propositional attitude attribution. Here I review some elements of her theory and find that, although the approach is very promising, there's still work to be done before we can conclude that the manners of prediction and explanation she identifies don't involve implicit propositional attitude attribution.
There are several different questions associated with the study of folkpsychology: what is the nature of our commonsense concepts of mental states?, how do we attribute mental states, to ourselves and to other people?, and how do we acquire our concepts and skills at mental-state attribution?Three general approaches to these questions are examined and assessed: theory theory, simulation theory, and rationality theory. A preliminary problem is to define each of these approaches. Alternative definitions are explored, centering on (...) which questions each approach tries to answer and how it answers them. For example, simulation theorists substantially agree on the answer to question but not on the answer to question. The paper then turns to some serious problems facing both rationality theory and theory theory.Rationality theory is faulted for its inadequate treatment of question and for its implausible answers to question. Theory theory is faulted for the problems it encounters in explaining first-person attribution, and for its treatment of attributed reasoning about change. Turning to simulation theory, the paper argues against Gordon’s “ascent routine” account of first-person attribution and in favor of an inner detection account. Finally, the paper addresses the question of the contents of our mental-state concepts. How do these concepts incorporate both behavioral features and inner features? A dual-representation hypothesis is advanced, and linked speculatively to mirror neurons. (shrink)
: My commentary on Hurley is concerned with foundational issues. Hurley's investigation of animal cognition is cast within a particular framework—basically, a philosophically refined version of folkpsychology. Her discussion has a complicated relationship to unresolved debates about the nature and status of folkpsychology, especially debates about the extent to which folk psychological categories are aimed at picking out features of the causal organization of the mind.
I survey the previous 20 years work on the nature of folkpsychology, with particular emphasis on the original debate between theory theorists and simulation theorists, and the positions that have emerged from this debate.
Folkpsychology refers to our everyday practice of making sense of actions, both our own and those of others, in terms of reasons. This volume, which is a special issue of the _Journal of Consciousness Studies_, brings together new work by scholars from a range of disciplines whose aim is to clarify, develop and challenge the claim that folkpsychology may be importantly -- perhaps even constitutively -- related to narrative practices. This book is part of (...) a wider project by its editor, Daniel D. Hutto, Professor of Philosophical Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, exploring this central issue of consciousness studies. (shrink)
This paper is about the contemporary debate concerning folkpsychology – the debate between the proponents of the theory theory of folkpsychology and the friends of the simulation alternative.1 At the outset, we need to ask: What should we mean by this term ‘folkpsychology’?
It is often assumed that cognitive science is built upon folkpsychology, and that challenges to folkpsychology are therefore challenges to cognitive science itself. We argue that, in practice, cognitive science and folkpsychology treat entirely non-overlapping domains: cognitive science considers aspects of mental life which do not depend on general knowledge, whereas folkpsychology considers aspects of mental life which do depend on general knowledge. We back up our argument on (...) theoretical grounds, and also illustrate the separation between cognitive scientific and folk psychological phenomena in a number of cognitive domains. We consider the methodological and theoretical significance of our arguments for cognitive science research. (shrink)
Is behavioral integration a necessary feature of belief in folkpsychology? Our data from over 5,000 people across 26 samples, spanning 22 countries suggests that it is not. Given the surprising cross-cultural robustness of our findings, we argue that the types of evidence for the ascription of a belief are, at least in some circumstances, lexicographically ordered: assertions are first taken into account, and when an agent sincerely asserts that p, nonlinguistic behavioral evidence is disregarded. In light of (...) this, we take ourselves to have discovered a universal principle governing the ascription of beliefs in folkpsychology. (shrink)
This article looks at two approaches to the human brain and to the causation of behaviour: the objective approach of neuroscience, which treats the brain as a physical system operating in accordance with physical laws of general application; and the subjective approach of folkpsychology, which treats people, and thus their brains and minds, as making choices or decisions on the basis of beliefs, desires, etc. It suggests three ways in which these two approaches might be related, two (...) physicalist and one non-physicalist; and argues, with reference to ethical and legal issues,ues that there are strong commonsense grounds for preferring the non-physicalist alternative, and that science does not justify its rejection. It is suggested that a considerable onus of proof lies on proponents of physicalist approaches, having regard to the implications of such approaches for important issues of justice and human rights.In this paper, I outline two approaches to the human brain, involving two different views of the causation of human behaviour; and I consider how these two approaches might be linked or related. The first is the objective approach of neuroscience, which treats the human brain as a physical object, operating in accordance with the same physical laws as other physical objects. The second is the subjective approach of folkpsychology, which we apply both in our ordinary interactions with other people and in our thinking about our own behaviour; and which treats people as choosing or deciding what to do on the basis of their beliefs, desires and so on. (shrink)
Stich and Ravenscroft (1994) distinguish between internal and external accounts of folkpsychology and argue that this distinction makes a significant difference to the debate over eliminative materialism. I argue that their views about the implications of the internal/external distinction for the debate over eliminativism are mistaken. First, I demonstrate that the first of their two external versions of folkpsychology is either not a possible target of eliminativist critique, or not a target distinct from their (...) second version of externalism. Second, I show that whether or not the second of their two external version of folkpsychology is open to eliminativist critique depends on ‘internal’ factors. Finally, I argue that they are wrong to claim that eliminativists might, by attacking external versions of folkpsychology, escape being put out of business if the simulation theory is correct. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is very modest. First, we want to assess how different strategies of naturalization might deal with the need of using folkpsychology in legal domain. Second, we want to check whether folkpsychology is indeed indispensable in the legal domain. Third, we want to describe possible problems with one strategy of naturalization, i.e. radical naturalization with classical elimination. Our conclusion will be that despite various attempts, every project of naturalization of law (...) will have to resolve the tension between law and folkpsychology and such resolution would not be achieved by simple reduction or elimination of folkpsychology. A variety of non-standard solutions might be in place to resolve this tension. We will only outline those strategies here. (shrink)
Some eliminativists have predicted that a developed neuroscience will eradicate the principles and theoretical kinds (belief, desire, etc.) implicit in our ordinary practices of mental state attribution. Prevailing defenses of common-sense psychology infer its basic integrity from its familiarity and instrumental success in everyday social commerce. Such common-sense defenses charge that eliminativist arguments are self-defeating in their folk psychological appeal to the belief that eliminativism is true. I argue that eliminativism is untouched by this simple charge of inconsistency, (...) and introduce a different dialectical strategy for arguing against the eliminativist. In keeping with the naturalistic trend in the sociology and philosophy of science, I show that neuroscientists routinely rely on folk psychological procedures of intentional state attribution in applying epistemically reliable standards of scientific evaluation. These scientific contexts place ordinary procedures of attribution under greater stress, producing evidence of folk psychological success that is less equivocal than the evidence in mundane settings. Therefore, the dependence of science on folkpsychology, when combined with an independently plausible explanatory constraint on reduction and an independently motivated notion of theoretical stress, allows us to reconstitute the charge of (neurophilic) eliminativist inconsistency in a more sophisticated form. (shrink)
Pickering and Chater (P&C) maintain that folkpsychology and cognitive science should neither compete nor cooperate. Each is an independent enterprise, with a distinct subject matter and characteristic modes of explanation. P&C''s case depends upon their characterizations of cognitive science and folkpsychology. We question the basis for their characterizations, challenge both the coherence and the individual adequacy of their contrasts between the two, and show that they waver in their views about the scope of each. (...) We conclude that P&C do not so muchdiscover ascreate the gap they find between folkpsychology and cognitive science. It is an artifact of their implausible and unmotivated attempt to demarcate the two areas, and of the excessively narrow accounts they give of each. (shrink)
'Folkpsychology' is a term that refers to the way that ordinary people think and talk about minds. But over roughly the last four decades the term has come to be used in rather different ways by philosophers and psychologists engaged in technical projects in analytic philosophy of mind and empirical psychology, many of which are only indirectly related to the question of how ordinary people actually think about minds. The result is a sometimes puzzling body of (...) academic literature, cobbled together loosely under that single heading, that contains a number of terminological inconsistencies, the clarification of which seems to reveal conceptual problems. This paper is an attempt to approach folkpsychology more directly, to clarify the phenomenon of interest, and to examine the methods used to investigate it. Having identified some conceptual problems in the literature, I argue that those problems have occluded a particular methodological confound involved in the study of folkpsychology, one associated with psychological language, that may well be intractable. Rather than attempt to solve that methodological problem, then, I suggest that we use the opportunity to rethink the relationship between folkpsychology and its scientific counterpart. A careful look at the study of folkpsychology may prove surprisingly helpful for clarifying the nature of psychological science and addressing the contentious question of its status as a potentially autonomous special science. (shrink)
Simulation as an epistemic tool between theory and practice: A Comparison of the Relationship between Theory and Simulation in Science and in FolkPsychology In this paper I explore the concept of simulation that is employed by proponents of the so-called simulation theory within the debate about the nature and scientific status of folkpsychology. According to simulation theory, folkpsychology is not a sort of theory that postulates theoretical entities (mental states and processes) (...) and general laws, but a practice whereby we put ourselves into others’ shoes and simulate their situation from our own perspective. On the basis of this sort of simulation, we supposedly know how we would act or think or feel, and then expect the same of others. A closer look at the concept of simulation reveals some problems with this view, but also helps to clarify the insight motivating simulation theory. Specifically, I defend the thesis that the analogy to simulations in science shows us how theoretical elements in folkpsychology can be complemented by (i.e. not replaced by) the central idea of simulation theory – namely that our own cognitive habits and dispositions provide us with a resource that is distinct from propositional knowledge in folkpsychology. I also discuss the idea that our use of simulations during cognitive development enables us to imitate the people around us and thereby to become more similar to them, which in turn makes simulation an increasingly effective epistemic strategy. Insofar as theoretical elements – such as the distinctions, relations, and entities referred to in folk psychological discourse – play a role in imitative learning, they are causally embedded in our cognitive development, so we have good reason to regard them as being among the real causes of our behavior. (shrink)
Let folkpsychology consist in the network of concepts, and associated beliefs, in terms of which we make sense of minded performance.This paper addresses the question of how we, the folk, come to understand those concepts: this, as distinct from the separate question as to how we come to apply them in the interpretation of particular minds, our own and those of others.The argument is that even though the network of concepts is akin to a set of (...) theoretical, interdefined terms, still it is possible to explain how we, the folk, understand them without suggesting that we are proto-scientists. The understanding required can be based on a sort of know-how: that is, a practical, untheoretical, form of knowledge. (shrink)
It has been a recurring theme in the philosophy of mind that folkpsychology is autonomous. This paper has three goals. First, it aims to clarify what the term 'folkpsychology' could mean in different contexts. Four widespread senses of the term are distinguished and the one eligible for autonomy is picked out. Secondly, a classic argument for autonomy is introduced and motivated. This is the argument from the normativity of folkpsychology, based on (...) its constitutive rationality. According to this argument, mentalistic concepts are to be understood as components of prescriptions for a rational course of action, rather than descriptions. Thirdly, limits of the argument from normativity are demonstrated. At best, the argument applies to merely a small segment of explanations in terms of mentalistic vocabulary, as the latter is meant to convey much more than simply normative content about the rational profile of an agent. (shrink)
It has commonly been argued that certain types of mental descriptions, specifically those characterized in terms of propositional attitudes, are part of a folk psychological understanding of the mind. Recently, however, it has also been argued that this is the case even when such descriptions are employed as part of scientific theories in domains like social psychology and comparative psychology. In this paper, I argue that there is no plausible way to understand the distinction between folk (...) and scientific psychology that can support such claims. Moreover, these sorts of claims can have adverse consequences for the neuroscientific study of the brain by downplaying the value of many psychological theories that provide information neuroscientists need in order to build and test neurological models. (shrink)
It is almost universally agreed that the main business of commonsense psychology is that of providing generally reliable predictions and explanations of the actions of others. In line with this, it is also generally assumed that we are normally at theoretical remove from others such that we are always ascribing causally efficacious mental states to them for the purpose of prediction, explanation and control. Building on the work of those who regard our primary intersubjective interactions as a form of (...) 'embodied practice', I defend a secondpersonal approach in this paper. (shrink)