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Department of Philosophy


Publication details for Professor Matthew Ratcliffe

Hutto, D.D. & Ratcliffe, M. (2007). Folk Psychology Reassessed. Dordrecht: Springer.
  • Publication type: Books: edited

Author(s) from Durham


What is central to our ability to interpret one another? A great deal of work in philosophy of mind, cognitive science, anthropology, developmental psychology and a host of other disciplines assumes that, at root, interpersonal interpretation is accomplished through the employment of a ‘commonsense’ or ‘folk’ psychology, meaning an ‘everyday’, rather than ‘scientific’, appreciation of mindedness. Although there is considerable debate over which cognitive processes support our folk psychological abilities and how those abilities develop during childhood, there is a remarkable degree of consensus concerning what folk psychology involves. Most discussions begin by stating or assuming that it consists primarily of an ability to attribute propositional attitudes to humans and other organisms, in order to predict and explain their behavior. This ability is usually regarded as an underlying core that enables all social life, rather than just one amongst many ingredients of human social ability. There have been a number of recent criticisms of this orthodox characterization, which question the scope, function, reliability and even the very nature of folk psychology. This book brings them together for the first time. The contributors all maintain that current understandings of folk psychology and of the mechanisms that underlie it need to be revised, supplemented or dismissed altogether.

Contributors: Kristin Andrews, Shaun Gallagher, Peter Goldie, Peter Hobson, Daniel Hutto, Joshua Knobe, Martin Kusch, Victoria McGeer, Adam Morton, Matthew Ratcliffe, Beata Stawarska, Dan Zahavi.