The Second Person in the Theory of Mind Debate

Review of Philosophy and Psychology 3 (2):231-248 (2012)
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It has become increasingly common to talk about the second person in the theory of mind debate. While theory theory and simulation theory are described as third person and first person accounts respectively, a second person account suggests itself as a viable, though wrongfully neglected third option. In this paper I argue that this way of framing the debate is misleading. Although defenders of second person accounts make use of the vocabulary of the theory of mind debate, they understand some of the core expressions in a different way. I will illustrate this claim by focusing on Reddy’s and Gallagher’s accounts and argue that these authors use the notions of knowing and of understanding other minds differently than traditionally assumed. As a consequence, second person accounts thus conceived do not directly address the questions that gave rise to the theory of mind debate. They invite us, however, to critically reflect upon the way the debate has been set up.

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Monika Dullstein
Universität Heidelberg


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