Contents

Vol. 16, No.6-8, June-August 2009
Special Issue on Narrative and Folk Psychology, ed. Daniel D. Hutto

Editor's Introduction

Daniel D. Hutto   full text
Folk Psychology as Narrative Practice

Refereed Papers

David Herman   abstract
Storied Minds: Narrative Scaffolding for Folk Psychology
Katherine Nelson   abstract
Narrative Practices and Folk Psychology: A Perspective from Developmental Psychology
Michelle Scalise Sugiyama   abstract
The Plot Thickens: What Children’s Stories tell us about Mindreading
Matthew K. Belmonte   abstract
What’s the Story behind ‘Theory of Mind’ and Autism?
William Turnbull, Jeremy I.M. Carpendale and Timothy P. Racine  abstract
Talk and Children’s Understanding of Mind
Chris Sinha   abstract
Objects in a Storied World: Materiality, Normativity, Narrativity
Jill de Villiers and Jay Garfield   abstract
Evidentiality and Narrative
Jonathan D. Hill   abstract
‘Hearing is Believing’: Amazonian Trickster Myths as Folk Psychological Narratives
David A. Leavens and Timothy P. Racine   abstract
Joint Attention in Apes and Humans: Are Humans Unique?
Kristin Andrews   abstract
Telling Stories without Words
Shaun Gallagher   abstract
Two Problems of Intersubjectivity
Corrado Sinigaglia   abstract
Mirror in Action
Marc Slors   abstract
The Narrative Practice Hypothesis and Externalist Theory Theory: For Compatibility, Against Collapse
Heidi Maibom   abstract
In Defence of (Model) Theory Theory
Matthew Ratcliffe   abstract
There Are No Folk Psychological Narratives

ABSTRACTS

Kristin Andrews

Telling Stories without Words

I will argue here that we can take a functional approach to FP that identifies it with the practice of explaining behaviour -- that is, we can understand folk psychology as having the purpose of explaining behaviour and promoting social cohesion by making others’ behaviour comprehensible, without thinking that this ability must be limited to those with linguistic abilities. One reason for thinking that language must be implicated in FP explanations arises from the history of theorizing about the nature of scientific explanation. I will show that there are other models of explanation that are free from the metaphysical linguistic baggage of the traditional models, and argue that such models can be profitably used to make sense of an explanation-centred FP that need not involve the attribution of propositional attitudes or a functioning linguistic competence. Further, I will argue that there is evidence that pre-linguistic human children engage in explanatory practices, and that some of these explanations may be seen as narrative explanations in an important sense.

 Email: andrewsk@yorku.ca


Matthew K. Belmonte

What’s the Story behind ‘Theory of Mind’ and Autism?

Abstract: Complex, mature cognition is the endpoint of a developmental process in which elementary capacities interact with the environment and with each other in predictable ways that depend on appropriate inputs. ‘Theory of mind’, the capacity to attribute thoughts and beliefs to other persons, is characterised by the Narrative Practice Hypothesis as emerging from the interactive experience of stories about people acting for reasons. The case of autism has been cited in support of the contrary view, that ‘theory of mind’ is an innately specified cognitive module, because the surface characteristics of autistic behaviour seem explicable as a circumscribed failure of such a module. So if one accepts the Narrative Practice Hypothesis, is one then robbed of an explanation for autism? The answer is an emphatic no: ‘theory of mind’ dysfunction is not universal in autism, and is developmentally preceded and predicted by abnormalities of attention, executive function and language consonant with the Narrative Practice Hypothesis.
Correspondence: Matthew K. Belmonte, Department of Human Development, Cornell University, G77 Martha Van Rensselaer Hall, Ithaca, New York 14853-4401.
Email: belmonte@mit.edu


Shaun Gallagher

Two Problems of Intersubjectivity

Abstract: I propose a distinction between two closely related problems: the problem of social cognition and the problem of participatory sense-making. One problem focuses on how we understand others; the other problem focuses on how, with others, we make sense out of the world. Both understanding others and making sense out of the world involve social interaction. The importance of participatory sense-making is highlighted by reviewing some recent accounts of perception that are philosophically autistic — i.e., accounts that ignore the involvement of others in our perception of the world.

Correspondence: Philosophy and Cognitive Sciences, Institute of Simulation and Training, University of Central Florida (USA), Philosophy, University of Hertfordshire (UK).
Email: gallaghr@mail.ucf.edu


Jill de Villiers and Jay Garfield

Evidentiality and Narrative

Abstract: In this paper we argue that the phenomenon of evidentiality, the grammatical marking in some languages of the source of one’s knowledge, gives us a revealing window into the developmental processes in middle childhood that subserve the achievement of narrative competence. First, we argue that the mastery of evidentiality is connected to the development of an understanding of inference, and of the ability to mobilize this understanding in the construction of human narratives. Second, we examine the role that parent-child discourse plays in clarifying the contrastive uses of sources of knowledge. Finally, we discuss the difference between first person and third person narratives, and suggest that evidentials might reveal something of the sources of evidence for persistence of self as the protagonist in one’s own life story.

Correspondence: Jill de Villiers, Smith College. Email: jdevilli@email.smith.edu
Jay Garfield, Smith College, The Central University of Tibetan Studies & The University of Melbourne. Email: jgarfield@smith.edu


David Herman

Storied Minds: Narrative Scaffolding for Folk Psychology

Abstract: Using Ian McEwan’s 2007 novel On Chesil Beach as a case study, this paper seeks to enhance opportunities for dialogue between researchers in the cognitive sciences and scholars of story. More specifically, now that narrative alternatives to theories of mind have begun to shape debates about the nature and status of folk psychology, it is time to flesh out those alternatives by highlighting the action-modelling capacity built into the structure of stories. Narrative practices like McEwan’s demonstrate how stories can be used to configure and reconfigure characters’ behaviour from different temporal, spatial, and evaluative standpoints, in the way that a complex molecule or architectural structure can be displayed and manipulated in virtual space with the help of an advanced computer graphics program. In turn, interpreting narrative as a system for building models of action underscores the relevance of narratology for the philosophy of mind — and vice versa.

Email: herman.145@osu.edu


Jonathan D. Hill

‘Hearing is Believing’: Amazonian Trickster Myths as Folk Psychological Narratives

Abstract: This essay explores cultural and psychological dynamics in indigenous Amazonian narratives about a powerful trickster figure named Made-from-Bone. Particular attention is given to the ways in which speaking verbs, quoted speeches, and dialogical interactions are used as psychological tools for understanding and explaining others’ inner thoughts and emotions. Comparative analysis of two narratives set in the distant mythical past demonstrates how intentionality is a semiotic ideology that emerges through dialogical interaction. These narrative practices are deeply rooted in shamanic healing practices, especially the use of musical and other symbolic sound elements as a privileged sense modality for expressing and experiencing psychological processes of making dreams, emotions, and inner thoughts into objects of conscious thought and discourse.

Correspondence: Dept. of Anthropology, Mail Code 4502, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL  62901 USA. Email: jhill@siu.edu


David A. Leavens & Timothy P. Racine

Joint Attention in Apes and Humans: Are Humans Unique?

Abstract: Joint attention is the ability to intentionally co-orient towards a common focus. This ability develops in a protracted, mosaic fashion in humans. We review evidence of joint attention in humans and great apes, finding that great apes display every phenomenon described as joint attention in humans, although there is considerable variation among apes of different rearing histories. We conclude that there is little evidence for human species-unique cognitive adaptations in the non-verbal communication of humans in the first 18 months of life. This conclusion is consistent with the Narrative Practice Hypothesis (NPH) because the NPH posits training in folk psychological narratives as a basis for folk psychological competence.

Correspondence: David A. Leavens, Psychology Department, School of Life Sciences, University of Sussex, Falmer, East Sussex, BN1 9QH. Email: davidl@sussex.ac.uk


Heidi Maibom

In Defence of (Model) Theory Theory

Abstract: In this paper, I present a version of theory theory, so-called model theory, according to which theories are families of models, which represent real-world phenomena when combined with relevant hypotheses, best interpreted in terms of know-how. This form of theory theory has a number of advantages over traditional forms, and is not subject to some recent charges coming from narrativity theory. Most importantly, practice is central to model theory. Practice matters because folk psychological knowledge is knowledge of the (empirical) world only if it is combined with knowledge of how to apply it. By combining the general and the particular in this way, model theory gives a deep and explanatorily satisfactory account of the centrality of practice. Model theory accounts not just as well as, but better than, narrativity theory for the fact that our folk psychological explanations appear to contain, or form part of, narratives.

Correspondence: Heidi L. Maibom, Dept of Philosophy, Paterson Hall 3A39, Carleton University, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 8W8, Canada.
Email: heidi_maibom@carleton.ca


Katherine Nelson

Narrative Practices and Folk Psychology: A Perspective from Developmental Psychology

Abstract: Herein developmental psychological research complementary to Hutto’s narrative practices hypothesis is considered. Specifically, I discuss experiential development from the perspective of first, second and third person in the acquisition of knowledge and the construction and comprehension of narratives, with relevance for theories of ‘theory of mind’ and in particular tests of the child’s understanding of false belief. I propose that the development of distinct third person belief states requires significant developmental work, which is advanced through social sharing of memory and knowledge, by means of linguistic representations especially through narrative practices of different kinds, personal narratives and story telling. The final sections summarize the view that these developments are part of a broader expansion of consciousness that is evident in many aspects of cognitive change during the later preschool years (Nelson, 2007).

Correspondence: 50 Riverside Drive #4B, New York, NY 10024. Email: knelson@gc.cuny.edu


Matthew Ratcliffe

There Are No Folk Psychological Narratives

Abstract: I argue that the task of describing our so-called ‘folk psychology’ requires difficult philosophical work. Consequently, any statement of the folk view is actually a debatable philosophical position, rather than an uncontroversial description of pre-philosophical commonsense. The problem with the current folk psychology debate, I suggest, is that the relevant philosophical work has not been done. Consequently, the orthodox account of folk psychology is an uninformative caricature of an understanding that is implicit in everyday discourse and social interaction, and also in literary narratives. I conclude by considering two recent departures from it, so-called ‘experimental philosophy’ and Daniel Hutto’s ‘narrative practice hypothesis’. Both, I claim, take steps in the right direction but retain unhelpful assumptions that they inherit from the orthodox view.

Correspondence: Matthew Ratcliffe, Department of Philosophy, Durham University, 50 Old Elvet, Durham DH1 3HN, UK. Email: m.j.ratcliffe@durham.ac.uk


Chris Sinha

Objects in a Storied World: Materiality, Normativity, Narrativity

Abstract: There exists broad agreement that participatory, intersubjective engagements in infancy and early childhood, particularly triadic engagements, pave the way for the folk psychological capacities that emerge in middle childhood. There is little agreement, however, about the extent to which early participatory engagements are cognitively prerequisite to the later capacities; and there remain serious questions about exactly how narrative and other language practices can be shown to bridge the gap between early engagements and later abilities, without presupposing the very abilities that they are supposed to account for. A key issue here is the normativity inherent in requesting, proferring and inferring reasons. I point out that normativity is not a property only of linguistic interactions. Normativity and conventionality are also materially instantiated in the artefactual objects that are most frequently implicated in early triadic engagements. The conventional, canonical functions of artefacts may, however, be overlaid in symbolic play by significations rooted in children’s experience of blended actual and virtual worlds. Artefactual objects are amplifiers, as well as objects of consciousness. Interwoven with the symbolic forms of language, they co-constitute a specifically human biocultural niche, within and in virtue of which developing human beings become competent folk psychologists.

Email: chris.sinha@port.ac.uk


Corrado Sinigaglia

Mirror in Action

Abstract: Several authors have recently pointed out the hypermentalism of the standard mindreading models, arguing for the need of an embodied and enactive approach to social cognition. Various attempts to provide an account of the primary ways of interacting with others, however, have fallen short of allowing for both what kind of intentional engagement is crucial in the basic forms of social navigation and also what neural mechanisms can be thought to underpin them. The aim of the paper is to counter this fault by showing that most of the primary ways of making sense of others are motor in nature and rooted in a specific brain mechanism: the mirror mechanism. I shall argue that the mirror-based making sense of others not only can be construed within the enactive approach to social cognition, but also allows us to refine it, supplying a plausible and unitary account of the early forms of social interaction.

Correspondence: Corrado Sinigaglia, Dipartimento di Filosofia, Università di Milano, via Festa del Perdono 7, I-20122 Milano, Italy. Email: corrado.sinigaglia@unimi.it


Marc Slors

The Narrative Practice Hypothesis and Externalist Theory Theory: For Compatibility, Against Collapse

Abstract: What defence does the Narrative Practice Hypothesis (NPH) have against the charge that it is a covert form of externalist theory theory (TT)? I discuss and reject Dan Hutto’s own strategies and argue that the NPH remains vulnerable to a threat of collapse into externalist TT as long as narrative folk-psychological explanation is differentiated from simple belief-desire explanation merely by a degree of complexity, subtlety and/or context-sensitivity. It is entirely plausible, however, that there is a more principled distinction between these two types of explanation of human behaviour. I defend such a distinction and show how it eliminates the threat of collapse into TT entirely.

Correspondence: Prof. dr. M.V.P. Slors, Faculty of Philosophy, Radboud University Nijmegen, Erasmusplein 1, P.O. Box 9103, 6500 HD  Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Email: marc.slors@phil.ru.nl


Michelle Scalise Sugiyama

The Plot Thickens: What Children’s Stories tell us about Mindreading

Abstract: Because a major selection pressure on humans has been humans themselves, ancestral humans needed to construct a map of their social world. The ability to attribute mental states to others is necessary for this map, but not sufficient: a social map must show the intentions, emotions and beliefs of individuals relative to one another. This task, which I call goal mapping, can be divided into four subcomponents: (1) noting and remembering the actions performed by a specific individual; (2) determining which of the individual’s actions subserve which of the individual’s goals; (3) integrating this representation with representations of the goals and actions of the other individuals in one’s social world; and (4) identifying points of conflict between the goals of these individuals. Stories told by children point to the existence of capacities dedicated to this task. Children’s stories initially lack plot, which consists of three key components that appear to emerge independently and correspond to the tasks of goal mapping: character constancy, goal-directed action and conflict. This study traces the development of these capacities in two existing samples of children’s narratives.

Correspondence: Michelle Scalise Sugiyama, Anthropology Department and Institute of Cognitive and Decision Sciences, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403.


William Turnbull, Jeremy I.M. Carpendale & Timothy P. Racine

Talk and Children’s Understanding of Mind

Abstract: Research has demonstrated that language is important for the development of an everyday understanding of mind. The Theory of Mind (ToM) framework is the dominant conception of what and how children develop in coming to understand mind. As such, much current thinking in developmental psychology about the way language makes a difference to the development of mentalistic understanding is tainted by certain deeply entrenched philosophical assumptions. Following an examination of views of language and mind that continue to frame, if only tacitly, the ToM tradition, we offer an alternative conception of the nature of mental state concepts and how language-based engagements between children and care-givers introduce an understanding of such concepts. Based on that alternative conception of language and mind we propose that parent-child discussion about situations involving minds facilitate the child’s development of an understanding of mind. We attempt to demonstrate that the development of the foundational skills necessary for understanding the meaning of psychological terms through such conversation make the construction and appreciation of narratives possible, deepening and extending the child’s mentalistic understanding. We then review three studies of parent-child talk about situations involving mind that offer empirical support for the claim that such talk is an important context for developing an understanding of aspects of human activity that involve reasons for action, emotion and belief. We conclude by describing the situated and sequential nature of meaning that our view of language and mind entails.

Correspondence: Jeremy I.M. Carpendale, Department of Psychology, 8888 University Ave, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby BC Canada V5A 1S6. Email: jcarpend@sfu.ca


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