We contrast two positions concerning the initial domain of actions that infants interpret as goal-directed. The 'narrow scope' view holds that goal-attribution in 6- and 9-month-olds is restricted to highly familiar actions (such as grasping) (). The cue-based approach of the infant's 'teleological stance' (), however, predicts that if the cues of equifinal variation of action and a salient action effect are present, young infants can attribute goals to a 'wide scope' of entities including unfamiliar human actions and actions of (...) novel objects lacking human features. It is argued that previous failures to show goal-attribution to unfamiliar actions were due to the absence of these cues. We report a modified replication of showing that when a salient action-effect is presented, even young infants can attribute a goal to an unfamiliar manual action. This study together with other recent experiments reviewed support the 'wide scope' approach indicating that if the cues of goal-directedness are present even 6-month-olds attribute goals to unfamiliar actions. (shrink)
Tomasello et al.'s two prerequisites, we argue, are not sufficient to explain the emergence of Joint Collaboration. An adequate account must include the human-specific capacity to communicate relevant information (that may have initially evolved to ensure efficient cultural learning). This, together with understanding intentional actions, does provide sufficient preconditions for Joint Collaboration without the need to postulate a primary human motive to share others' psychological states.
Barresi & Moore fail to provide a satisfactory account for the development of social understanding because of their ambiguous characterization of the relationship between the intentional schema and shared intentional activities, their underestimation of the representational capacities of infants, and their overreliance on the simulationist assumption that understanding others is tantamount to sharing their experience.