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theory-theory


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The view that everyday attributions of intentions, beliefs, and meanings to other persons proceed via tacit use of a theory that enables one to construct these interpretations as explanations of their doings. The view is commonly held along with functionalism, according to which psychological states are theoretical entities, identified by the network of their causes and effects. The theory-theory has different implications, depending upon which feature of theories is being stressed. Theories may be thought of as capable of formalization, as yielding predictions and explanations, as achieved by a process of theorizing, as answering to empirical evidence that is in principle describable without them, as liable to be overturned by newer and better theories, and so on. The main problem with seeing our understanding of others as the outcome of a piece of theorizing is the non-existence of a medium in which this theory can be couched, as the child learns simultaneously the minds of others and the meanings of terms in its native language. See also language of thought hypothesis, simulation.

Subjects: Philosophy.


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