The Role of Deception in Complex Social Interaction

Cogito 12 (1):25-32 (1998)
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Social participation requires certain abilities: communication with other members of society; social understanding which enables planning ahead and dealing with novel circumstances; and a theory of mind which makes it possible to anticipate the mental state of another. In childhood play we learn how to pretend, how to put ourselves in the minds of others, how to imagine what others are thinking and how to attribute false beliefs to them. Without this ability we would be unable to deceive and detect deception in the actions of others, and our ability to interact within our social group would be greatly impaired. In this paper I claim that the capacity for deception is necessary for a theory of mind, and a theory of mind is necessary for complex social interaction.
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