Synthese 199 (1-2):1-27 (2020)

Non-cognitive gadgets are fancy tools shaped to meet specific, local needs. Cecilia Heyes defines cognitive gadgets as dedicated psychological mechanisms created through social interactions and culturally, not genetically, inherited by humans. She has boldly proposed that many human cognitive mechanisms are gadgets. If true, these claims would have far-reaching implications for our scientific understanding of human social cognition. Here we assess Heyes’s cognitive gadget approach as it applies to mindreading. We do not think that the evidence supports Heyes’s thought-provoking thesis that human children are taught to read minds the way they are taught to read words. We highlight a potential circularity lurking behind this analogy, and we explain why we are unpersuaded by Heyes’s anti-mentalistic proposal for handling data inconsistent with the gadget view, which others take to be evidence for mindreading in human infancy. We conclude that while human minds may well be filled with gadgets, mindreading is unlikely to be one of them.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11229-020-02620-4
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 70,192
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Origin of Concepts.Susan Carey - 2009 - Oxford University Press.
Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind.Wilfrid S. Sellars - 1956 - Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science 1:253-329.

View all 37 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Rethinking Cultural Evolutionary Psychology.Ryan Nichols, Henrike Moll & Jacob L. Mackey - 2019 - Journal of Cognition and Culture 19 (5):477-492.
We Read Minds to Shape Relationships.Vivian Bohl - 2015 - Philosophical Psychology 28 (5):674-694.
Cognition Blindness and Cognitive Gadgets.Cecilia Heyes - 2019 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 42.
Language is Not a Gadget.Peter Ford Dominey - 2019 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 42.
Testing Cognitive Gadgets.Cecilia Heyes - 2019 - Mind and Language 34 (4):551-559.
Signature Limits in Mindreading Systems.J. Robert Thompson - 2014 - Cognitive Science 38 (7):1432-1455.
How is Mindreading Really Like Reading?Ian A. Apperly - 2019 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 42.
Action, Mindreading and Embodied Social Cognition.Joshua Shepherd - 2012 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 11 (4):507-518.
Mindreading in Infancy.Peter Carruthers - 2013 - Mind and Language 28 (2):141-172.
Mindreading in the Animal Kingdom.José Luis Bermúdez - 2009 - In Robert W. Lurz (ed.), The Philosophy of Animal Minds. Cambridge University Press.


Added to PP index

Total views
6 ( #1,133,611 of 2,507,401 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #416,983 of 2,507,401 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes