Behavioral Circumscription and the Folk Psychology of Belief: A Study in Ethno-Mentalizing

Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 6 (3):193-203 (2017)
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Abstract

Is behavioral integration (i.e., which occurs when a subjects assertion that p matches her non-verbal behavior) a necessary feature of belief in folk psychology? Our data from nearly 6,000 people across twenty-six samples, spanning twenty-two countries suggests that it is not. Given the surprising cross-cultural robustness of our findings, we suggest that the types of evidence for the ascription of a belief are, at least in some circumstances, lexicographically ordered: assertions are first taken into account, and when an agent sincerely asserts that p, non-linguistic behavioral evidence is disregarded. In light of this, we take ourselves to have discovered a universal principle governing the ascription of beliefs in folk psychology.

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Author Profiles

Edouard Machery
University of Pittsburgh
Stephen Stich
Rutgers - New Brunswick
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