How we know our own minds: The relationship between mindreading and metacognition

Behavioral and Brain Sciences 32 (2):121-138 (2009)

Abstract

Four different accounts of the relationship between third-person mindreading and first-person metacognition are compared and evaluated. While three of them endorse the existence of introspection for propositional attitudes, the fourth claims that our knowledge of our own attitudes results from turning our mindreading capacities upon ourselves. Section 1 of this target article introduces the four accounts. Section 2 develops the “mindreading is prior” model in more detail, showing how it predicts introspection for perceptual and quasi-perceptual mental events while claiming that metacognitive access to our own attitudes always results from swift unconscious self-interpretation. This section also considers the model's relationship to the expression of attitudes in speech. Section 3 argues that the commonsense belief in the existence of introspection should be given no weight. Section 4 argues briefly that data from childhood development are of no help in resolving this debate. Section 5 considers the evolutionary claims to which the different accounts are committed, and argues that the three introspective views make predictions that are not borne out by the data. Section 6 examines the extensive evidence that people often confabulate when self-attributing attitudes. Section 7 considers “two systems” accounts of human thinking and reasoning, arguing that although there are introspectableeventswithin System 2, there are no introspectableattitudes. Section 8 examines alleged evidence of “unsymbolized thinking”. Section 9 considers the claim that schizophrenia exhibits a dissociation between mindreading and metacognition. Finally, section 10 evaluates the claim that autism presents a dissociation in the opposite direction, of metacognition without mindreading.

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Peter Carruthers
University of Maryland, College Park

Citations of this work

Thinking is Believing.Eric Mandelbaum - 2014 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 57 (1):55-96.
Imagination.Shen-yi Liao & Tamar Gendler - 2019 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Alief in Action (and Reaction).Tamar Szabó Gendler - 2008 - Mind and Language 23 (5):552--585.
Epistemic Anxiety and Adaptive Invariantism.Jennifer Nagel - 2010 - Philosophical Perspectives 24 (1):407-435.
Implicit Bias.Michael Brownstein - 2017 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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