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The Regulative Dimension of Folk Psychology

Authors:
  • Princeton University & Australian National University
... According to this standard image, our folk, unreflective understanding of each other in mentalistic terms would subserve some kind of nomological or causal-explanatory purpose. This is the basic assumption underlying the contemporary research on what has been called the Theory of Mind (hence, ToM), i.e., the capacity to interpret each other's behavior in terms of mental states, or to "read" other's minds on the grounds of their behavior (Premack & Woodruff, 1987; see also Carruthers & Smith, 1996;Westra & Carruthers, 2018); that's why this capacity has also been called mindreading (McGeer, 2007(McGeer, , 2015(McGeer, , 2021Zawidzki, 2008; see also Almagro-Holgado & Fernández-Castro, 2019;Fernández-Castro 2017a, 2017bFernández-Castro & Heras-Escribano, 2019;Zawidzki, 2013). ...
... In a different vein, simulation theory states that we do not rely on implicit knowledge about how mental states and behavioral outcomes causally relate, but on our own mental or cognitive states and processes. Thus, our capacity for mindreading is explained on the grounds of some kind of analogical reasoning, whereby we project ourselves to others' minds to model their mental activity and thus causally understand and predict their behavior (Gordon, 1996; see also Almagro-Holgado & Fernández-Castro, 2019;Fernández-Castro 2017a, 2017bFernández-Castro & Heras-Escribano, 2019;McGeer, 2007McGeer, , 2015McGeer, , 2021Zawidzki, 2008). ...
... we'll delve into the main assumptions that characterize descriptivism and what picture it renders of the meaning of mental-state ascriptions. We'll see how descriptivism about mental-state ascriptions is related to the standard or mindreading image of folk psychology (McGeer, 2007) and how a naturalized version of this commitment is at the heart of the mind-body identity thesis. In addition, we'll see how this descriptivist framework leaves only two possible ways out of substance dualism and the mind-body problem: a) reductive compatibilism (e.g., ontologically conservative and revisionary approaches) and non-reductive incompatibilism (e.g., ontologically radical approaches). ...
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Conceptual debates in the field of mental health have typically revolved around two core issues: the problem of mind and the problem of normativity. Against the reductivist and eliminativist tendencies that characterize most therapeutic models, in this dissertation we advance a pragmatist and non-descriptivist approach to mental health -a “philosophy of mental health without mirrors”. This approach rejects the idea that folk-psychological interpretation subserves a primarily descriptive and causal-explanatory function. Rather, it highlights its evaluative and regulative dimensions, while at the same time retaining their truth-aptness. In doing so, it offers a non-reductivist, yet compatibilist approach to the mind and normativity, which affords a better conceptual framework for mental health. We then explore its consequences for the debate around the doxastic status of delusional experiences and its implications for the intervention with people with delusions. Drawing from this non-descriptivist approach, we claim that doxasticism about delusions can and must be defended not on the grounds of its scientific value, but on the grounds of its ethical and political virtues. We conclude that non-cognitivist, functional-analytic approaches to the intervention with people with delusions offer a better model than their cognitivist counterparts, and we point out several ways in which our non-descriptivist approach could help to enhance their efficacy and clinical significance.
... Como lo señala Tomasello (2018Tomasello ( , 2019, los procesos de atención conjunta e intencionalidad compartida entre los niños, sus referentes de cuidado y el contexto, eventualmente conducen a un desarrollo más sofisticado de las habilidades de lectura de mentes. Otros autores coinciden en que el desarrollo y continuidad de las capacidades de lectura de mentes se da mediante la adquisición de patrones de cooperación social y prácticas sociales compartidas a través de la evolución cultural humana, lo que favorece el moldeamiento de la mente para entender a los demás como poseedores de estados mentales (Almagro & Fernández-Castro, 2020;Fernández-Castro, 2020;McGeer, 2007;Zawidzki, 2013b). Así, la atribución de estados mentales sirve para preservar el estatus social y evitar posibles conflictos al comprender las diversas normas intersubjetivas de una práctica psicológica compartida (Almagro & Fernández-Castro, 2020;McGeer, 2007). ...
... Otros autores coinciden en que el desarrollo y continuidad de las capacidades de lectura de mentes se da mediante la adquisición de patrones de cooperación social y prácticas sociales compartidas a través de la evolución cultural humana, lo que favorece el moldeamiento de la mente para entender a los demás como poseedores de estados mentales (Almagro & Fernández-Castro, 2020;Fernández-Castro, 2020;McGeer, 2007;Zawidzki, 2013b). Así, la atribución de estados mentales sirve para preservar el estatus social y evitar posibles conflictos al comprender las diversas normas intersubjetivas de una práctica psicológica compartida (Almagro & Fernández-Castro, 2020;McGeer, 2007). ...
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Apperly and Butterfill's (2009) hold that there are two cognitive mind-reading systems. System 1(S1) is fast, automatic and inflexible, whereas system 2 (S2) is reflective, flexible and slow. This paper presents and discusses two central assumptions of this theory: the independence of S1 and S2 and the encapsulation of S1. It is argued that findings on longitudinal trajectories in infancy on the false belief test and visual perspective taking undermine the two-system theory in three respects: (1) S1 is not encapsulated, (2) S1 is not entirely automatic processing, and (3) S2 cognitive processes can be fast and efficient. The paper concludes that mindreading operates through different socio-cognitive processes that are gradually and continuously enriched during development, which eliminates the need for a two-system characterization.
... Recent critiques of the view of folk psychology as a descriptive practice have led to the idea that folk psychology is primarily a practice that regulates and shapes our minds and behavior (De Bruin, 2017;McGeer, 2007McGeer, , 2015McGeer, , 2021Vierkant & Paraskevaides, 2012;Zawidzki, 2008Zawidzki, , 2013. The main idea of these so-called mindshaping approaches is that in ascribing attitudes to each other, we impose normative expectations; we appeal to the agents in question to also manifest other, not (yet) observed features that belong to the ascribed attitude. ...
... So when we ascribe attitudes, what kind of normative expectations are at stake? McGeer (2007) argues that some of these directly follow from norms of basic rationality: in ascribing to someone the belief that the earth is round we expect the person not to say things that blatantly contradict that idea, such as saying "the earth is flat". However, McGeer also emphasizes that many of the norm-governed expectations are not grounded in norms of rationality. ...
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What attitude does someone manifesting implicit bias really have? According to the default representationalist picture, implicit bias involves having conflicting attitudes (explicit versus implicit) with respect to the topic at hand. In opposition to this orthodoxy, dispositionalists argue that attitudes should be understood as higher-level dispositional features of the person as a whole. Following this metaphysical view, the discordance characteristic of implicit bias shows that someone’s attitude regarding the topic at hand is not-fully-manifested or ‘in-between’. However, so far few representationalists have been convinced by dispositionalist arguments, largely because dispositionalism cannot provide explanations in terms of underlying processes. We argue that if dispositionalism wants to be a genuine contender, it should make clear what it has to offer in terms of understanding of implicit bias. As a concrete proposal, we combine dispositionalist metaphysics with the idea that our normative practices of attitude ascription partly determine what it means to have an attitude. We show that such regulative dispositionalism can account for two prominent normative features of implicit bias. We conclude by suggesting that in order to engage in a meaningful debate with representationalism, dispositionalists might have to put the question ‘what counts as a good explanation?’ back on the table.
... I argued that existing theories of mentalizing satisfy the weak constraint. 13 Though these are not behavioral studies, Zawidzki (2013) and McGeer (2007) give persuasive reasons to think that we frequently are motivated to intervene, shape, and regulate others' mental states. Though Zawidzki regards this as an alternative to mentalizing, I argue below that mindshaping presupposes teleological explanations. ...
... We mentalize only when we encounter truly strange behavior that we cannot make sense of with our stereotypes, scripts, and schema. Relatedly, Zawidzki and Victoria McGeer argue social interactions often are aimed at shaping and regulating others rather than explaining and predicting their behavior (McGeer, 2007;Zawidzki, 2013). The primary function of our social practices is to make others conform to certain ways of thinking and behaving to facilitate cooperation. ...
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Article
The orthodox view of social cognition maintains that mentalizing is an important and pervasive element of our ordinary social interactions. The orthodoxy has come under scrutiny from various sources recently. Critics from the phenomenological tradition argue that phenomenological reflection on our social interactions tells against the orthodox view. Proponents of pluralistic folk psychology argue that our ordinary social interactions extend far beyond mentalizing. Both sorts of critics argue that emphasis in social cognition research ought to be on other elements of our social practices. In this paper, I consider social explanations specifically and argue that social explanations are implicated in many of the social practices highlighted by critics of the orthodox view.
... Specifically, research on self-directed mindshaping provides grounds to believe that HDM is in some cases significantly more transparent and trustworthy than ADM. This is because, unlike AI systems that explain ADM, when human agents self-ascribe reasons to explain their decisions, their self-ascriptions frequently have a mindshaping or "regulative" function: they prompt the self-ascriber to control herself so as to conform in her thinking and acting to the reason self-ascriptions and become more predictable to other people [39,40]. The equal opacity argument overlooks this point. ...
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Article
Many artificial intelligence (AI) systems currently used for decision-making are opaque, i.e., the internal factors that determine their decisions are not fully known to people due to the systems’ computational complexity. In response to this problem, several researchers have argued that human decision-making is equally opaque and since simplifying, reason-giving explanations (rather than exhaustive causal accounts) of a decision are typically viewed as sufficient in the human case, the same should hold for algorithmic decision-making. Here, I contend that this argument overlooks that human decision-making is sometimes significantly more transparent and trustworthy than algorithmic decision-making. This is because when people explain their decisions by giving reasons for them, this frequently prompts those giving the reasons to govern or regulate themselves so as to think and act in ways that confirm their reason reports. AI explanation systems lack this self-regulative feature. Overlooking it when comparing algorithmic and human decision-making can result in underestimations of the transparency of human decision-making and in the development of explainable AI that may mislead people by activating generally warranted beliefs about the regulative dimension of reason-giving.
... The kind of pluralism we have in mind for the psychology of norms is modeled after pluralistic approaches to folk psychology and social cognition (Andrews 2012;Fiebich and Coltheart 2015;Spaulding 2018;Andrews et al. 2020). While early approaches to that field took it for granted that we navigate the social world by predicting and explaining behavior in terms of propositional attitudes, pluralistic approaches have stressed the importance of alternative strategies for prediction and explanation, including representations of the situation, traits, stereotypes and (notably) social norms; pluralists also emphasized the importance of regulative or "mindshaping" processes that did not involve prediction or explanation at all (McGeer 2007;Zawidzki 2013). The key insight of pluralistic approaches to social cognition has been that understanding the social world is a messy, complex process, and that there are a variety of ways of doing social cognition. ...
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Article
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Chapter
Theories of Theories of Mind brings together contributions by a distinguished international team of philosophers, psychologists, and primatologists, who between them address such questions as: what is it to understand the thoughts, feelings, and intentions of other people? How does such an understanding develop in the normal child? Why, unusually, does it fail to develop? And is any such mentalistic understanding shared by members of other species? The volume's four parts together offer a state of the art survey of the major topics in the theory-theory/simulationism debate within philosophy of mind, developmental psychology, the aetiology of autism and primatology. The volume will be of great interest to researchers and students in all areas interested in the 'theory of mind' debate.