Folk psychology without principles: an alternative to the belief–desire model of action interpretation

Philosophical Explorations 13 (3):257-274 (2010)
  Copy   BIBTEX


In this paper, we take issue with the belief–desire model of second- and third-person action interpretation as it is presented by both theory theories and cognitivist versions of simulation theory. These accounts take action interpretation to consist in the (tacit) attribution of proper belief–desire pairs that mirror the structure of formally valid practical inferences. We argue that the belief–desire model rests on the unwarranted assumption that the interpreter can only reach the agent's practical context of action through inference. This assumption betrays a deep-seated bias toward disengaged, observational interpretation strategies. On our alternative picture, the interpreter can start off on the assumption of a shared practical context and proceed to reason discourse in those cases in which this assumption runs aground. Following Brandom's non-formalist account of reason discourse, we suggest that interpreting other people's actions in terms of reasons is not a matter of following the principles of formally valid practical syllogisms, but of endorsing practical material inferences that are correct in virtue of a shared practical world.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,347

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Folk psychology as a theory.Ian Martin Ravenscroft - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Instrumentalism in psychology.William Seager - 1990 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 4 (2):191 – 203.
Belief and desire under the Elms.Consuelo Preti - 2000 - ProtoSociology 14:270-284.
Critter psychology: On the possibility of nonhuman animal folk psychology.Kristin Andrews - 2007 - In Daniel D. Hutto & Matthew Ratcliffe (eds.), Folk Psychology Re-Assessed. Kluwer/Springer Press. pp. 191--209.
Folk belief and commonplace belief.Frank Jackson & Philip Pettit - 1993 - Mind and Language 8 (2):298-305.
Can intuitive psychology survive the growth of neuroscience?Keith Campbell - 1986 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 29 (June):143-152.


Added to PP

86 (#198,167)

6 months
8 (#371,375)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author Profiles

Citations of this work

Still committed to the normativity of folk psychology.Alireza Kazemi - 2021 - Philosophical Explorations 25 (1):58-74.
Still committed to the normativity of folk psychology.Alireza Kazemi - 2021 - Philosophical Explorations 25 (1):58-74.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Actions, Reasons, and Causes.Donald Davidson - 1963 - Journal of Philosophy 60 (23):685.
Articulating reasons: an introduction to inferentialism.Robert Brandom - 2000 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

View all 57 references / Add more references