Enculturating folk psychologists

Synthese 199 (1-2):1039-1063 (2020)


This paper argues that our folk-psychological expertise is a special case of extended and enculturated cognition where we learn to regulate both our own and others’ thought and action in accord with a wide array of culturally shaped folk-psychological norms. The view has three noteworthy features: it challenges a common assumption that the foundational capacity at work in folk-psychological expertise is one of interpreting behaviour in mentalistic terms, arguing instead that successful mindreading is largely a consequence of successful mindshaping; it argues that our folk-psychological expertise is not only socially scaffolded in development, it continues to be socially supported and maintained in maturity, thereby presenting a radically different picture of what mature folk-psychological competency amounts to; it provides grounds for resisting a recent trend in theoretical explanations of quotidian social interaction that downplays the deployment of sophisticated mentalizing resources in understanding what others are doing.

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Victoria McGeer
Princeton University

Citations of this work

Folk Psychology as a Theory.Ian Martin Ravenscroft - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Economics is Converging with Sociology but Not with Psychology.Don Ross - forthcoming - Tandf: Journal of Economic Methodology:1-22.

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