Two distinct theses are sometimes argued for, or against,together in the debate on early mindreading: that infantsmindread, and that this occurs thanks to innate mentalnotions. When this is the case, the underlying assumption isthat mental notions cannot be learned early in infancy, andtherefore at that stage they must be either innate or not presentat all. I do not intend to directly argue in favour of theopposite claim that mental notions can be learned early ininfancy. My more indirect route is to argue that a muchstronger form of nativism than what is ordinarily thought isrequired if innate mindreading abilities are to be attributed toinfants. This means that, if one defends early mindreading,the choice is between acknowledging that infants can learn tomindread, on the one hand, and being committed to a rathercumbersome version of nativism on the other. My argument isbased on the claim that mental notions need to subsume – andtherefore generalize over – a host of behavioural rules. Thisargument is assessed against the nativist position ofBaillargeon and colleagues and the anti-nativist position ofRuffman. Finally, I consider a possible objection to the claimthat mental notions essentially consist of statisticalgeneralizations from experience.

Being nativist about mindreading: More demanding than you might think

MAZZONE, MARCO
2015-01-01

Abstract

Two distinct theses are sometimes argued for, or against,together in the debate on early mindreading: that infantsmindread, and that this occurs thanks to innate mentalnotions. When this is the case, the underlying assumption isthat mental notions cannot be learned early in infancy, andtherefore at that stage they must be either innate or not presentat all. I do not intend to directly argue in favour of theopposite claim that mental notions can be learned early ininfancy. My more indirect route is to argue that a muchstronger form of nativism than what is ordinarily thought isrequired if innate mindreading abilities are to be attributed toinfants. This means that, if one defends early mindreading,the choice is between acknowledging that infants can learn tomindread, on the one hand, and being committed to a rathercumbersome version of nativism on the other. My argument isbased on the claim that mental notions need to subsume – andtherefore generalize over – a host of behavioural rules. Thisargument is assessed against the nativist position ofBaillargeon and colleagues and the anti-nativist position ofRuffman. Finally, I consider a possible objection to the claimthat mental notions essentially consist of statisticalgeneralizations from experience.
mindreading; development; nativism
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11769/97438
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