Logical and phenomenological arguments against simulation theory


Theory theorists conceive of social cognition as a theoretical and observational enterprise rather than a practical and interactive one. According to them, we do our best to explain other people's actions and mental experience by appealing to folk psychology as a kind of rule book that serves to guide our observations through our puzzling encounters with others. Seemingly, for them, most of our encounters count as puzzling, and other people are always in need of explanation. By contrast, simulation theorists do their best to avoid the theoretical stance by using their own experience as the measure of everyone else's. When it comes to explaining how we understand other people some of the very best contemporary philosophers, psychologists, and neuroscientists are simulationists. For example, Vittorio Gallese, Alvin Goldman, Robert Gordon, Jane Heal, Susan Hurley, and Marc Jeannerod. This short list of simulationists, however, already involves some problems. Not everyone on this list understands simulation in the same way. In effect, there are different simulation theories, and although it is important to distinguish them, and I will do so before I go much further, I will in the end argue against all of them. For several reasons, I don't think that the concept of simulation explains our primary and pervasive way of understanding others, any more than theory theory (TT) does. © 2007 Springer.

Publication Title

Folk Psychology Re-Assessed