Direct social perception and dual process theories of mindreading

Consciousness and Cognition 36:483-497 (2015)
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The direct social perception thesis claims that we can directly perceive some mental states of other people. The direct perception of mental states has been formulated phenomenologically and psychologically, and typically restricted to the mental state types of intentions and emotions. I will compare DSP to another account of mindreading: dual process accounts that posit a fast, automatic “Type 1” form of mindreading and a slow, effortful “Type 2” form. I will here analyze whether dual process accounts’ Type 1 mindreading serves as a rival to DSP or whether some Type 1 mindreading can be perceptual. I will focus on Apperly and Butterfill’s dual process account of mindreading epistemic states such as perception, knowledge, and belief. This account posits a minimal form of Type 1 mindreading of belief-like states called registrations. I will argue that general dual process theories fit well with a modular view of perception that is considered a kind of Type 1 process. I will show that this modular view of perception challenges and has significant advantages over DSP’s phenomenological and psychological theses. Finally, I will argue that if such a modular view of perception is accepted, there is significant reason for thinking Type 1 mindreading of belief-like states is perceptual in nature. This would mean extending the scope of DSP to at least one type of epistemic state.

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Mitchell Herschbach
California State University, Northridge


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