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Basic Social Cognition without Mindreading: Minding Minds without Attributing Contents Abstract: This paper argues that Mind-Reading Hypotheses (MRHs), of any kind, are not needed to best describe or best explain basic acts of social cognition. It considers the two most popular MRHs: One-ToM and Two-ToM theories. These MRHs face competition in the form of Complementary Behaviour Reading Hypotheses (CBRHs). Following Buckner (2014), it is argued that the best strategy for putting CBRHs out of play is to appeal to theoretical considerations about the psychosemantics of basic acts of social cognition. In particular, need-based accounts that satisfy a teleological criterion have the ability to put CBRHs out of play. Yet, against this backdrop, a new competitor for MRHs is revealed: Mind Minding Hypothesis (MMHs). MMHs are capable of explaining all the known facts about basic forms of social cognition and they also satisfy the teleological criterion. In conclusion, some objections concerning the theoretical tenability of MMHs are addressed and prospects for further research are canvassed.
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2 Basic Social Cognition without Mindreading: Minding Minds without Attributing Contents Daniel D. Hutto “Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the things you can think up if only you try!” - Dr. Seuss Here’s the latest twist on an old riddle: How many mindreading systems does it take engage in basic forms of social cognition? Answers vary. Some say “Maybe two” (Apperly and Butterfill 2009, Butterfill and Apperly 2013). Others say “One, and only one – definitely ” (Carruthers 2013, unpublished). A better answer is, I contend, “None at all”. This paper shows how the last answer might be true and attempts to make accepting it attractive. This paper argues that Mind-Reading Hypotheses (MRHs), of any kind, neither best characterize nor best explain basic social cognition. Attention is given to the two most popular MRHs: One-ToM and Two-ToM theories. These MRHs face competition in the form of Complementary Behaviour Reading Hypotheses. Following Buckner (2014), it is argued that the best strategy for putting Complementary Behaviour Reading Hypotheses out of play is to appeal to theoretical considerations about the psychosemantics of basic acts of social cognition. In particular, need-based accounts that satisfy a teleological criterion can plausibly put CBRHs out of play. So all looks good for MRHs. But there is a twist. For against this backdrop a new competitor for MRHs is revealed: Mind Minding Hypotheses. Mind Minding Hypotheses assume that no mental states or contents are attributed during basic acts of social cognition, and yet they are capable of explaining all the known facts and they also satisfy the teleological criterion. In conclusion, some objections concerning the theoretical tenability of MMHs are addressed and prospects for further research are canvassed.
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