Do Apes Read Minds?: Toward a New Folk Psychology

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Overview

By adulthood, most of us have become experts in human behavior, able to make sense of the myriad behaviors we find in environments ranging from the family home to the local mall and beyond. In philosophy of mind, our understanding of others has been largely explained in terms of knowing others' beliefs and desires; describing others' behavior in these terms is the core of what is known as folk psychology. In Do Apes Read Minds? Kristin Andrews challenges this view of folk psychology, arguing that we don't consider others' beliefs and desires when predicting most quotidian behavior, and that our explanations in these terms are often inaccurate or unhelpful. Rather than mindreading, or understanding others as receptacles for propositional attitudes,Andrews claims that folk psychologists see others first as whole persons with traits, emotions, and social relations. Drawing on research in developmental psychology, social psychology, and animal cognition, Andrews argues for a pluralistic folk psychology that employs different kinds of practices (including prediction, explanation, and justification) and different kinds of cognitive tools (including personality trait attribution, stereotype activation, inductive reasoning about past behavior, and generalization from self) that are involved in our folk psychological practices. According to this understanding of folk psychology — which does not require the sophisticated cognitive machinery of second-order metacognition associated with having a theory of mind — animals (including the other great apes) may be folk psychologists, too.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Engaging....an overall valuable and interesting approach.... Do Apes ReadMinds? has much to recommend....worth reading." — Notre Dame PhilosophicalReviews

"Crisply and clearly written, this enjoyable, informative work ends by offering suggestions for further research. Summing up: Highly recommended." —Choice

"Kristin Andrews' book has a lot of strengths....Her argumentation is an excellent example of an empirically oriented philosophy of mind....There are plenty of great reviews of empirical research which could be particularly useful for philosophy students." —Metapsychology

"The psychologically alert reader will find in this book powerful evidence of the contribution that philosophy can make toward clarifying ideas developed by psychology....The book is a splendid example of how the two — philosophy and psychology — can be regarded as separate forms of thinking that, nonetheless, rely on one another for productive descriptions of presumed mental phenomena." — PsycCRITIQUES

Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
Engaging.... an overall valuable and interesting approach.... Do Apes Read Minds? has much to recommend.... worth reading.
Choice

Crisply and clearly written, this enjoyable, informative work ends by offering suggestions for further research. Summing up: Highly recommended.

Metapsychology
Kristin Andrews' book has a lot of strengths.... Her argumentation is an excellent example of an empirically oriented philosophy of mind.... There are plenty of great reviews of empirical research which could be particularly useful for philosophy students.
PsycCRITIQUES
The psychologically alert reader will find in this book powerful evidence of the contribution that philosophy can make toward clarifying ideas developed by psychology.... The book is a splendid example of how the two — philosophy and psychology — can be regarded as separate forms of thinking that, nonetheless, rely on one another for productive descriptions of presumed mental phenomena.
Choice
Crisply and clearly written, this enjoyable, informative work ends by offering suggestions for further research. Summing up: Highly recommended.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262017558
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 7/31/2012
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Kristin Andrews is Associate Professor of Philosophy at York University, Toronto.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

I Identifying the Problem 1

1 Do Apes Read Minds? 3

Social Apes 3

Standard Views of Folk Psychology 7

A Pluralistic Folk Psychology 10

2 Baby Humans and Adult Chimpanzees: Propositional Attitude Attribution in Philosophy and Psychology 13

From Philosophy to Psychology 13

Belief Attribution in Philosophy 14

Belief Attribution in Psychology 18

Theory of Mind in Children 22

Infant Belief Attribution 25

Children's Changing Understanding of Other Minds 33

3 The Asymmetry of Folk Psychological Prediction and Explanation 37

Standard Folk Psychology Emphasizes Prediction (and Assumes Explanation Follows) 37

The Symmetry Thesis 39

Criticisms of the Symmetry Thesis 41

An Asymmetric Folk Psychology 43

II Prediction 45

4 How Do You Know What I'm Going to Do? You Know My Beliefs 47

Prediction and the Propositional Attitudes 47

Predicting Behavior 49

Accuracy of Predicting Behavior by Relying on the Attitudes 51

Propositional Attitude Attribution Is Not Sufficient for Accurate Predictions 52

Propositional Attitude Attribution Is Not Necessary for Accurate Predictions 54

Prediction in Theory Theory and Model Theory 56

Prediction in Simulation Theory 60

Leaving the Armchair 63

5 How Do You Know What I'm Going to Do? You Know Me 65

Mental Content and Intentionality 65

Methods of Prediction 67

Predicting from the Situation 70

Predicting from Self 75

Predicting from Stereotypes 81

Predicting from Traits 88

Other Factors Involved in Predicting Behavior 93

6 The Role of Propositional Attitudes in Behavior Prediction 99

Predicting Behavior and Mental Content 99

Does Trait Attribution Require Attribution of Mental Content? 101

How Accurate Is Standard Folk Psychology? 105

What Place Is There for Traditional Folk Psychological Prediction? 109

Predicting Behavior without Attributing Propositional Attitudes 111

III Explanation 113

7 What Is Folk Psychological Explanation? 115

A Preliminary Account of Folk Psychological Explanation 115

Explanation and Prediction 126

Four Questions about FP Explanation 128

Explanation in Theory Theory 129

Explanation in Simulation Theory 132

Explanation in Model Theory 138

My Answers to the Four Questions 143

8 The Science of Folk Psychological Explanation 145

Aspects of Explanation 145

Explanation Seeking in Children 146

Infants 146

Verbal Children 148

Explanation Generating in Children 151

The Purposes of FP Explanation 153

Explanation Types and Contents 156

Explanatory Pluralism 161

9 Worries about Explanation and Mental State Attribution 163

Explaining Behavior without a Theory of Mind 163

Nonverbal Explainers 164

Automatic Mental State Attribution 168

Explanations, Reasons, and Causes 175

Toward a New Way 178

IV The Solution 181

10 Folk Psychological Pluralism: Reading People, Not Minds 183

The Principles of a Pluralistic Folk Psychology 183

Folk Psychological Pluralism 197

How Do the Traditional Accounts of Mind Reading Stack Up? 198

Reading People, Not Minds 206

V Implications of the Account 213

11 Social Intelligence and the Evolution of Theory of Mind 215

The Social Intelligence Hypothesis 215

Deceiving without a Theory of Mind 218

Predicting with a Theory of Mind 220

Norms and Theory of Mind 222

An Adaptive Function of Explaining Behavior 224

Social Intelligence as Explaining Behavior 229

12 Being a Critter Psychologist 231

Problems with the Chimpanzee Theory of Mind Research Program 231

Chimpanzee Critter Psychology 234

Intentional Agency 234

Predicting and Coordinating 237

Explanation Seeking 240

Belief Attribution 243

Moving Forward 247

13 Conclusion 249

Seeing People 249

Notes 253

References 255

Index 289

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