Simulation is not enough: A hybrid model of disgust attribution on the basis of visual stimuli

Philosophical Psychology 26 (3):401-419 (2013)
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Abstract

Mindreading is the ability to attribute mental states to other individuals. According to the Theory-Theory (TT), mindreading is based on one's possession of a Theory of Mind. On the other hand, the Simulation Theory (ST) maintains that one arrives at the attribution of a mental state by simulating it in one's own mind. In this paper, I propose a ST-TT hybrid model of the ability to attribute disgust on the basis of visual stimuli such as facial expressions, body postures, etc. More precisely, while I defend Goldman's (2006) thesis that the ability to attribute disgust based on observing disgusted facial expressions stems from a mirror-based simulation process, I argue that ST is unable to account for the ability to attribute disgust based on non-facial visual stimuli; I propose, rather, that this latter ability is theory-based. My model is grounded in evidence from individuals suffering from Huntington's Disease.

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Luca Barlassina
University of Sheffield

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