Journal Article

Generous or Parsimonious Cognitive Architecture? Cognitive Neuroscience and Theory of Mind

Philip Gerrans and Valerie E. Stone

in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science

Published on behalf of British Society for the Philosophy of Science

Volume 59, issue 2, pages 121-141
Published in print June 2008 | ISSN: 0007-0882
Published online June 2008 | e-ISSN: 1464-3537 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjps/axm038
Generous or Parsimonious Cognitive Architecture? Cognitive Neuroscience and Theory of Mind

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Recent work in cognitive neuroscience on the child's Theory of Mind (ToM) has pursued the idea that the ability to metarepresent mental states depends on a domain-specific cognitive subystem implemented in specific neural circuitry: a Theory of Mind Module. We argue that the interaction of several domain-general mechanisms and lower-level domain-specific mechanisms accounts for the flexibility and sophistication of behavior, which has been taken to be evidence for a domain-specific ToM module. This finding is of more general interest since it suggests a parsimonious cognitive architecture can account for apparent domain specificity. We argue for such an architecture in two stages. First, on conceptual grounds, contrasting the case of language with ToM, and second, by showing that recent evidence in the form of fMRI and lesion studies supports the more parsimonious hypothesis.

Theory of Mind, Metarepresentation, and Modularity

Developmental Components of ToM

The Analogy with Modularity of Language

Dissociations without Modules

The Evidence from Neuroscience

Conclusion

Journal Article.  7851 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Science and Mathematics

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