Theories of children's developing understanding of mind tend to emphasize either individualistic processes of theory formation, maturation, or introspection, or the process of enculturation. However, such theories must be able to account for the accumulating evidence of the role of social interaction in the development of social understanding. We propose an alternative account, according to which the development of children's social understanding occurs within triadic interaction involving the child's experience of the world as well as communicative interaction with others about (...) their experience and beliefs (Chapman 1991; 1999). It is through such triadic interaction that children gradually construct knowledge of the world as well as knowledge of other people. We contend that the extent and nature of the social interaction children experience will influence the development of children's social understanding. Increased opportunity to engage in cooperative social interaction and exposure to talk about mental states should facilitate the development of social understanding. We review evidence suggesting that children's understanding of mind develops gradually in the context of social interaction. Therefore, we need a theory of development in this area that accords a fundamental role to social interaction, yet does not assume that children simply adopt socially available knowledge but rather that children construct an understanding of mind within social interaction. Key Words: language; Piaget; social interaction; theories of mind; Vygotsky; Wittgenstein. (shrink)
Susan Hurley's shared circuits model (SCM) rightly begins in action and progresses through a series of layers; but it fails to reach action understanding because it relies on mirroring as a driving force, draws on heavily criticized theories, and neglects the need for shared experience in our grasp of social understanding.
Knobe's laudable conclusion that we make sense of our social world based on moral considerations requires a development account of human thought and a theoretical framework. We outline a view that such a moral framework must be rooted in social interaction.
Carruthers presents an interesting analysis of confabulation and a clear attack on introspection. Yet his theory-based alternative is a mechanistic view of which neglects the fact that social understanding occurs within a network of social relationships. In particular, the role of language in his model is too simple.
The ability to take others’ perspectives on the self has important psychological implications. Yet the logically and developmentally prior question is how children develop the capacity to take others’ perspectives. We discuss the development of joint attention in infancy as a rudimentary form of perspective taking and critique examples of biological and individualistic approaches to the development of joint attention. As an alternative, we present an activity-based relational perspective according to which infants develop the capacity to coordinate attention with others (...) by differentiating the perspectives of self and other from shared activity. Joint attention is then closely related to language development, which makes further social development possible. We argue that the ability to take the perspective of others on the self gives rise to the possibility of language, rationality and culture. (shrink)
We explore three types of criticisms of our theory on the development of children's social understanding. We reject suggestions that we offer nothing new to traditional theories of development or recent “social” accounts of “theory of mind.” Second, we take the point that there are grounds for improving our account of dyadic interaction in infancy but reject claims that we have not sufficiently accounted for how we incorporate the notions of criteria and structure into the theory. Third, we accept that (...) the epistemic triangle, as defined, would benefit from an affective dimension and such a formulation could be used to describe the dynamic of developmental change from infancy to beyond early childhood. We still feel that the combination of Wittgenstein, Vygotsky, and Piaget remains as an antidote to the flaws in current “theories of mind” approaches to social understanding. (shrink)
Pulvermüller's attempt to link language with brain activity appears to depend on the assumption that words have context-independent meanings. An examination of everyday talk contradicts this assumption. The meaning that speakers convey depends not only on word content, but also, and importantly, on the location of a “word” in an ongoing sequence of turns in talk.
In place of Tomasello's explanation for the source of moral obligation, we suggest that it develops from the concern for others already implicit in the human developmental system. Mutual affection and caring make the development of communication and thinking possible. Humans develop as persons within such relationships and this develops into respect and moral obligation.
Notwithstanding many similarities between Thelen et al.'s and Piaget's accounts of the A-not-B error, we argue that, in contrast to Piaget, they do not explicitly address the issue of objectivity. We suggest that this omission is partly due to the fact that Thelen et al. and Piaget's accounts are pitched at different levels of explanation.