Folk Psychological Narratives: The Sociocultural Basis of by Daniel D. Hutto

By Daniel D. Hutto

"This publication is an important contribution to philosophy and psychology. Daniel Hutto has made an unique and compelling contribution to debates in regards to the human capability to appreciate others."--Ian Ravenscroft, Philosophy division, Flinders college (Ian Ravenscroft )

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Folk Psychological Narratives: The Sociocultural Basis of Understanding Reasons (Bradford Books)

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Extra info for Folk Psychological Narratives: The Sociocultural Basis of Understanding Reasons (Bradford Books)

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This should give us pause for thought about what the primary function (or functions) of folk psychological explanations really is. I return to this in the final chapter. The stories others tell about their reasons are typically delivered, and indeed, often fashioned, in the course of online interactive dialogue and conversation—dialogue of the sort that is, with luck, sensitive to the questioner’s precise explanatory needs and requirements. The nature of such The Limits of Spectatorial Folk Psychology 21 engagements is complex and deserves more attention than it has received to date.

An illustration makes the point better than a description, and the annals of Sherlock Holmes prove a useful sourcebook. Holmes avows that he frequently imaginatively reenacts the thought processes of criminals when making predictions about their next moves or explaining their past steps. In The Musgrave Ritual, Conan Doyle (1892–1893/1986, 343) provides a tidy account of how the basic simulation heuristic is supposed to work: You know my methods in such cases, Watson: I put myself in the man’s place, and having first gauged his intelligence, I try to imagine how I should myself have proceeded under the same circumstances.

No supplement to a core theory of mind would have been any use. And this is the moral. Achieving the requisite explanation would not have been made possible by means of a graft—that is, if my (alleged) core theory of mind was reinforced by a clutch of auxiliary hypotheses, even if these took the form of minitheories about the dispositions and traits of the person in question. Certainly, we often explicitly call on such information when speculating about others. It might even be thought that if we are prepared to take a very relaxed view of what constitutes a theory, then person-specific theories could be formed on the basis of regular encounters and prolonged experience with particular individuals.

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