This chapter presents a detailed account of the mechanisms underlying third person mindreading: the attribution of mental states to others. A speculative Just So Story about the evolutionary origins of the capacity for third person mindreading is offered. This is followed by a list of basic facts about mindreading and some central empirical findings that plausibly need to be accommodated by any adequate theory. This leads to a detailed rendering of the theory of the cognitive mechanisms underlying mindreading, and a comparison with alternative theory-theory, modularity theory, simulation theory and rationality theory approaches. The view that emerges is a highly eclectic one that includes processes that fit with theory theory, modularity theory, and simulation theory as well as processes that do not have any clear parallel in any of the competing theories.
Keywords: belief attribution; behavior prediction; desire attribution; false belief task; hypothetical reasoning; inference prediction; innateness; modularity; planning; rationality; simulation; theory theory; Alison Gopnik; Alan Leslie; Robert Gordon; Alvin Goldman
Chapter. 42234 words. Illustrated.
Subjects: Philosophy of Mind
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