Alvin I. Goldman, Simulating Minds: The Philosophy, Psychology and Neuroscience of Mindreading

Abstract

The opening statement in the Preface of this fascinating book refers to how the understanding of the self and others, the identification of ‘‘the feelings, thoughts, and designs that compose our own daily lives and those of our neighbors, lovers, and foes’’ (p. vii), is a perennial problem in the philosophy of mind. Goldman’s aim in Simulating Minds is twofold: (i) to provide a summary and review of the ‘mindreading’ work since a trio of papers in the 1980s (Robert Gordon 1986, Jane Heal 1986, and Goldman 1989) presented an alternative, in the form of simulation theory, to the functionalist and ‘theory–theory’ accounts that were then prevalent, and (ii) to present his own form of simulation theory or simulationism. There are 11 rich chapters. The first offers some philosophical and scientific background to our capacity to mentalize, and from there the next four chapters take us through a conceptualization of simulation theory, an account of the rather heavily metaphysical rationality theory, the child-scientist or theory–theory account, and an amended form of theory–theory specified as the modularity theory. It is with simulation theory that Goldman has the greatest sympathy, so it is merely introduced and conceptualized as straightforwardly plausible in Chap. 2. Rationality theory fails on three rather fundamental counts: third-person attribution, first-person attribution, and because it only deals with propositional attitudes, and is, thus, ruled out of any further serious consideration by page 67. The child-scientist or theory–theory account claims that action depends on guidance afforded by the innate causal principles of folk psychology, but it is not so much that which sinks it but the fact that it must account for the shift from the non-representational conception of belief in the 3 year-old, who has a conceptual deficit and is unable to pass the false belief test, to the representational conceptual capacity of the 4 yearold. As Goldman says it is this ‘‘claim which has become a lightning rod for

DOI: 10.1007/s11023-009-9142-x

Cite this paper

@article{Stuart2009AlvinIG, title={Alvin I. Goldman, Simulating Minds: The Philosophy, Psychology and Neuroscience of Mindreading}, author={Susan Stuart}, journal={Minds and Machines}, year={2009}, volume={19}, pages={279-282} }