The development of children’s minds raises fundamental questions, from how we are able to know about basic aspects of the world such as objects and actions, to how we come to grasp mental states. The Developing Mind is the first book to critically introduce and examine philosophical questions concerning children’s cognitive development and to consider the implications of scientific breakthroughs for the philosophy of developmental psychology.

The book explores central topics in developmental psychology from a philosophical perspective:

  • children's awareness of objects and the question of ‘object permanence’
  • the nature and explanatory role of ‘core knowledge’
  • evidence for innate drivers of language
  • children's knowledge of the relation between actions and goals
  • puzzles about when infants first have awareness of other minds
  • how social interaction explains the emergence of knowledge

Throughout the book, Stephen Butterfill draws on important case studies, including experiments with children on objects and their interactions, ‘false belief tasks’, and the process by which children come to see other people, not just themselves, as purposive agents. He shows how these questions can illuminate fundamental debates in philosophy of mind concerning the mind’s architecture, the explanatory power of representation, the social character of knowledge, and the nature of metacognitive feelings.

Additional features, such as a glossary and extensive bibliographic references, provide helpful tools for those coming to the subject for the first time.

chapter 1|10 pages


part I|82 pages

Physical objects

chapter 2|10 pages

Principles of object perception

chapter 3|13 pages

The Simple View

chapter 4|14 pages

The Linking Problem

chapter 5|7 pages

Core knowledge

chapter 7|12 pages

Metacognitive feelings

chapter 8|6 pages

Conclusion to Part I

part |12 pages

Interlude on innateness

chapter 9|10 pages


part II|107 pages

Minds and actions

chapter 10|17 pages


chapter 11|12 pages

A theory of goal tracking

chapter 12|12 pages


The puzzle

chapter 13|18 pages

Three levels of analysis

chapter 14|20 pages


A solution?

chapter 15|20 pages

Joint action

chapter 16|6 pages

Conclusion to Part II

chapter 17|10 pages