A complete account of the role of MNSs in social cognition will of course also

A complete account of the role of mnss in social

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propositional attitudes. A complete account of the role of MNSs in social cognition will of course also have to address the problem of ascription, to which I alluded above (2.2) – i.e. mirroring does not automatically qualify as understanding that the state one is in refers to or belongs to someone
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else. Minimally, an account should pick out functional differences between the roles played by matching representations in first- versus third-person cases. These functional differences will of course be reflected in differences in the neural activation that occurs in tandem with the activation of the matching representations. I will limit myself to one final point on this issue: with MNSs that are involved in selecting responses rather than mirroring, the problem of accounting for ascription does not arise, since these MNSs do not constitute matching representations that would be ambiguous with respect to first- versus third-persons. To put it another way, the representations they produce do not need to be ascribed at all. 5. Conclusion I have defended the thesis that the discovery of MNSs constitutes empirical support for ST by corroborating a prediction made by ST. This has involved affirming two claims: (i) that MNSs are involved in social cognition and (ii) that they do so in a way that instantiates simulation. With respect to (i), I have argued that MNSs are likely to be substantially involved in (perhaps necessary for) understanding many intentions and emotions, although they are not likely to be sufficient. As for (ii), I have tried to show that much of the work on MNSs in fact fits best with a slightly different simulationist framework, which is broader and therefore weaker than ST. This is the sense of simulation employed in “simulationist” theories of concepts, such as that espoused by Barsalou (1999, 2005). According to such theories, conceptual thought in general has a simulationist component, but the term simulation here refers not to simulations of a target’s experience, nor even specifically to one’s own experience in a similar counterfactual situation, but to simulations of one’s one past experiences in general - activating sensory, motor, proprioceptive, affective, and introspective representations that match representations one would have when perceiving, carrying out actions, experiencing emotions, etc. My suggestion is the following: instances of mirroring that instantiate simulation in the sense of ST are a special case of a broader class of phenomena that instantiate simulation in the sense of Barsalou. Although this requires simulation theorists to modify their understanding of simulation to make it line up with the empirical work, it also allows them to embed ST into a broader framework, thereby increasing theoretical scope and making available a broader base of empirical data.
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References Adolphs, Ralph. 2003. “Cognitive neuroscience of human social behaviour.” National Review of Neuroscience 4(3):165-78.
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