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)
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 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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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*.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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 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)
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.
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.
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.
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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
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’?
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
I investigate the role that facilitating cooperative action plays in shaping folkpsychology. Publisher's blurb: _The Importance of Being Understood _is an innovative and thought-provoking exploration of the links between the way we think about each other's mental states and the fundamentally cooperative nature of everyday life. Adam Morton begins with a consideration of ' folkpsychology ', the tendency to attribute emotions, desires, beliefs and thoughts to human minds. He takes the view that it is (...) precisely this tendency that enables us to understand, predict and explain the actions of others, which in turn helps us to decide on our own course of action. This relection suggests, claims Morton, that certain types of cooperative activity are dependent on everyday psychological understanding conversely, that we act in such a way as to make our actions easily intelligible to others so that we can benefit from being understood. This idea of 'beneficial circularities' is at the core of Morton's investigation of the interdependencies between folkpsychology and social behaviour: we understand each other because we have learned to make ourselves intelligible. Using examples of cooperative activities such as car driving and playing tennis, Adam Morton analyses the concepts of belief and simulation, the idea of explanation by motive, and the causal force of psychological explanation. In addition to argument and analysis, Morton also includes more speculative explorations of topics such as moral progress and presents a new point of view on how and why cultures differ. _The Importance of Being Understood _forges new links between ethics and the philosophy of mind and will be of interest to anyone in either field, as well as developmental psychologists. (shrink)
Many philosophers and psychologists argue that normal adult human beings possess a primitive or 'folk' psychological theory. Recently, however, this theory has come under challenge from the simulation alternative. This alternative view says that human bings are able to predict and explain each others' actions by using the resources of their own minds to simuate the psychological etiology of the actions of others. The thirteen essays in this volume present the foundations of theory of mind debate, and are accompanied (...) by an extensive introduction. (shrink)
For the last 25 years discussions and debates about commonsense psychology (or “folkpsychology,” as it is often called) have been center stage in the philosophy of mind. There have been heated disagreements both about what folkpsychology is and about how it is related to the scientific understanding of the mind/brain that is emerging in psychology and the neurosciences. In this chapter we will begin by explaining why folkpsychology plays such (...) an important role in the philosophy of mind. Doing that will require a quick look at a bit of the history of philosophical discussions about the mind. We’ll then turn our attention to the lively contemporary discussions aimed at clarifying the philosophical role that folkpsychology is expected to play and at using findings in the cognitive sciences to get a clearer understanding of the exact nature of folkpsychology. (shrink)
This book proposes a series of interconnected arguments against the view that interpersonal understanding involves the use of a 'folk' or 'commonsense' psychology. Ratcliffe suggests that folkpsychology, construed as the attribution of internal mental states in order to predict and explain behaviour, is a theoretically motivated and misleading abstraction from social life. He draws on phenomenology, neuroscience and developmental psychology to offer an alternative account that emphasizes patterned interactions between people in shared social situations.
According to agent-causal accounts of free will, agents have the capacity to cause actions, and for a given action, an agent could have done otherwise. This paper uses existing results and presents experimental evidence to argue that young children deploy a notion of agent-causation. If young children do have such a notion, however, it remains quite unclear how they acquire it. Several possible acquisition stories are canvassed, including the possibility that the notion of agent-causation develops from a prior notion of (...) obligation. Finally, the paper sets out how this work might illuminate the philosophical problem of free will. (shrink)
This paper discusses some requirements on a folk-psychological, computational account of concepts. Although most psychological views take the folk-psychological stance that concept-possession requires capacities of both representation and classification, such views lack a philosophical context. In contrast, philosophically motivated views stress one of these capacities at the expense of the other. This paper seeks to provide some philosophical motivation for the (folk-) psychological stance. Philosophical and psychological constraints on a computational level account provide the context for evaluating (...) two theses. The first, the Classificatory View, is that concept-possession is constituted by the ability to classify states of the world. I argue, against this view, that to be able to classify, a thinker must also be able to represent the world. The second thesis, the Representational View, is that to possess a concept is constituted by the ability to represent the world. I argue that ascribing this ability is incoherent without ascribing an ability to classify. Hence, a detailed computational specification of concept-possession suggests that the folk-psychological stance is accurate. Philosophical views of concepts, (e.g. Fodor, 1987), adhering to one of the strong theses, whilst adverting to folk-psychological motivations, are thus both insufficiently complex and incoherent. (shrink)
There is a long-standing debate in the philosophy of action and the philosophy of science over folk psychological explanations of human action: do the (perhaps implicit) generalizations that underwrite such explanations purport to state contingent, empirically established connections between beliefs, desires, and actions, or do such generalizations serve rather to define, at least in part, what it is to have a belief or desire, or perform an action? This question has proven important because of certain traditional assumptions made about (...) the role of law-statements in scientific explanations. According to this tradition, law-statements take the form of generalizations, and the laws we find in well-established sciences are contingent and empirical; as such, if the kinds of generalizations at work in folk psychological explanations of human action act like definitions, or state conceptual connections, then such generalizations could not play the kind of explanatory role we find in mature sciences. This paper argues that the aforementioned way of framing the debate reflects a still powerful but impoverished conception of the role laws play in scientific explanations, a conception that, moreover, cannot be reconciled with a good deal of actual scientific practice. When we update the philosophy of science, we find the concerns that are raised for folk psychological explanations largely evaporate or are found not to be specific to such explanations. (shrink)
In this paper, I seek to refute arguments for the idea that folk psychological explanation, i.e., the explanation of actions, beliefs and desires in terms of one another, should be understood as being of a different character than ordinary scientific explanations, a view defended most prominently in analytical philosophy by Donald Davidson and John McDowell. My strategy involves arguing both against the extant arguments for the idea that FP must be construed as giving such explanations, and also against the (...) very notion of such a different kind of explanation. I argue first that the in some sense a priori and conceptual nature of folk psychological principles does not support the idea that these are other than empirical generalisations, by appeal to recent nativist ideas in cognitive science and to Lewis's conception of the meaning of theoretical terms. Second, I argue that there is no coherent sense in which folk psychological explanations can be seen as normative. Thirdly, I examine the putatively holistic character of the mental and conclude that that too fails to provide any cogent reasons for viewing folk psychological explanations as different from other kinds of explanation. (shrink)
Jerry Fodor has long championed the view, recently dubbed “scientific intentional realism” (Loewer and Ray, 1991, p. xiv), that “a scientifically adequate psychology will contain laws that quantify over intentional phenomena in intentional terms.” On such a view our belief/desire psychology will be “vindicated” through empirical investigation; that is, it will be shown to denote the explanatory (or causally salient) states or events in the production of thought and behavior. That intentional properties, states, or events have causal efficacy---are (...) not mere epiphenomena---is necessary for any such vindication. This paper investigates whether intentional properties can if fact ground or sustain the causal relations empirical psychology aims to reveal. I conclude that intentional properties are not amenable to such an explanatory role, and that, therefore, a different vindication of intentional description is required of the realist. (shrink)