Do Apes Read Minds?

Toward a New Folk Psychology

By adulthood, most of us have become experts in human behavior, able to make sense of the myriad behaviors we find in environments ranging from the family home to the local mall and beyond. In philosophy of mind, our understanding of others has been largely explained in terms of knowing others' beliefs and desires; describing others' behavior in these terms is the core of what is known as folk psychology. In Do Apes Read Minds? Kristin Andrews challenges this view of folk psychology, arguing that we don’t consider others' beliefs and desires when predicting most quotidian behavior, and that our explanations in these terms are often inaccurate or unhelpful. Rather than mindreading, or understanding others as receptacles for propositional attitudes, Andrews claims that folk psychologists see others first as whole persons with traits, emotions, and social relations.

Drawing on research in developmental psychology, social psychology, and animal cognition, Andrews argues for a pluralistic folk psychology that employs different kinds of practices (including prediction, explanation, and justification) and different kinds of cognitive tools (including personality trait attribution, stereotype activation, inductive reasoning about past behavior, and generalization from self) that are involved in our folk psychological practices. According to this understanding of folk psychology—which does not require the sophisticated cognitive machinery of second-order metacognition associated with having a theory of mind—animals (including the other great apes) may be folk psychologists, too.

Table of Contents

  1. Contents
  2. Acknowledgments
  3. I. Identifying the Problem
  4. 1. Do Apes Read Minds?
  5. 2. Baby Humans and Adult Chimpanzees: Propositional Attitude Attribution in Philosophy and Psychology
  6. 3. The Asymmetry of Folk Psychological Prediction and Explanation
  7. II. Prediction
  8. 4. How Do You Know What I'm Going to Do? You Know My Beliefs
  9. 5. How Do You Know What I'm Going to Do? You Know Me
  10. 6. The Role of Propositional Attitudes in Behavior Prediction
  11. III. Explanation
  12. 7. What Is Folk Psychological Explanation?
  13. 8. The Science of Folk Psychological Explanation
  14. 9. Worries about Explanation and Mental State Attribution
  15. IV. The Solution
  16. 10. Folk Psychological Pluralism: Reading People, Not Minds
  17. V. Implications of the Account
  18. 11. Social Intelligence and the Evolution of Theory of Mind
  19. 12. Being a Critter Psychologist
  20. 13. Conclusion
  21. Notes
  22. References
  23. Index