chapter  13
48 Pages

Synthesis: Psychological Understanding and Social Skills

WithMartin Davies & Tony Stone

Suppose we use the term theory of mind in a neutral and inclusive way, so that having a theory of mind is simply having an ability to engage in our everyday folk psychological practices of attribution, interpretation, and prediction. This use of the term is noncommittal as to how the ability is to be explained. Perhaps the explanation is to be given in terms of possession of a substantive theory about how the psychological world works; perhaps in terms of a capacity to identify with others in imagination and to simulate their mental lives; or perhaps in terms of a mixture of these things. The neutral and inclusive use of theory of mind is also noncommittal as to whether the basis of our folk psychological abilities resides in a special-purpose module of the mind.