Folk Psychological Narratives: The Sociocultural Basis of Understanding Reasons

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MIT Press, Aug 24, 2012 - Psychology - 368 pages

An argument that challenges the dominant "theory theory" and simulation theory approaches to folk psychology by claiming that our everyday understanding of intentional actions done for reasons is acquired by exposure to and engaging in specific kinds of narratives.

Established wisdom in cognitive science holds that the everyday folk psychological abilities of humans—our capacity to understand intentional actions performed for reasons—are inherited from our evolutionary forebears. In Folk Psychological Narratives, Daniel Hutto challenges this view (held in somewhat different forms by the two dominant approaches, "theory theory" and simulation theory) and argues for the sociocultural basis of this familiar ability. He makes a detailed case for the idea that the way we make sense of intentional actions essentially involves the construction of narratives about particular persons. Moreover he argues that children acquire this practical skill only by being exposed to and engaging in a distinctive kind of narrative practice.

Hutto calls this developmental proposal the narrative practice hypothesis (NPH). Its core claim is that direct encounters with stories about persons who act for reasons (that is, folk psychological narratives) supply children with both the basic structure of folk psychology and the norm-governed possibilities for wielding it in practice. In making a strong case for the as yet underexamined idea that our understanding of reasons may be socioculturally grounded, Hutto not only advances and explicates the claims of the NPH, but he also challenges certain widely held assumptions. In this way, Folk Psychological Narratives both clears conceptual space around the dominant approaches for an alternative and offers a groundbreaking proposal.

 

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Contents

1 The Limits of Spectatorial Folk Psychology
1
2 The Narrative Practice Hypothesis
23
3 Intentional Attitudes
41
4 Imaginative Extensions
65
5 Linguistic Transformations
87
6 Unprincipled Embodied Engagements
101
7 Getting a Grip on the Attitudes
129
8 No Native Mentalizers
143
9 No Childs Science
163
10 Three Motivations and a Challenge
179
11 First Communions
199
12 Ultimate Origins and Creation Myths
229
Notes
249
References
291
Index
329
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About the author (2012)

Daniel D. Hutto is Professor of Philosophical Psychology at the University of Wollongong and the author of Folk Psychological Narratives: The Sociocultural Basis for Understanding Reasons (MIT Press) and coauthor of Radicalizing Enactivism: Basic Minds without Content (MIT Press).

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