How to Interpret Infant Socio-Cognitive Competence

Review of Philosophy and Psychology 2 (3):483-497 (2011)
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Abstract

I review recent evidence that very young, pre-verbal infants attribute belief-like states when anticipating the behavior of others. This evidence is drawn from infant performance on non-verbal false belief tasks. I argue that, contrary to typical interpretations, such evidence does not show that infants attribute belief-like states. Rather, it shows that infants apply an enhanced version of what Gergely ( 2011 ) calls the “teleological stance” to brief bouts of behavior. This requires them to parse behavioral sequences into goals and rationally/informationally-constrained means of achieving them; however, it does not require the attribution of unobservable mental states, like beliefs, that are causally responsible for behavior

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