The Social Cover View: a Non-epistemic Approach to Mindreading

Philosophia 48 (2):483-505 (2019)
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Abstract

Mindreading capacity has been widely understood as the human ability to gain knowledge about the inner processes and states of others that bring about the behavior of these agents. This paper argues against this epistemic view of mindreading on the basis of different empirical studies in linguistics and social and developmental psychology: we are systematically biased in attributing mental states, and many everyday uses of mental ascription sentences do not reflect an epistemic function in our social interactions. We introduce an alternative view of mental ascriptions, the social cover view, which is consistent with the evidence. The social cover view holds that the main function of mental ascriptions is to cover the social status and reputation of an agent rather than to gain knowledge about her inner processes and states. Finally, we discuss two possible objections to our proposal.

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Author Profiles

Manuel Almagro Holgado
University of Granada
Víctor Fernandez Castro
University of Granada

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