Folk Psychology & Folk Epistemics

The first subproject, running from October 2006 – October 2009, will focus "Theory of Mind" and "Folk Epistemics".

In our everyday dealings with one another we often predict, explain, or simply understand actions in terms of the mental states behind them. We attribute to one another such states as beliefs, desires, intentions, emotions, and so on, which we think of as being causally responsible for particular actions. This capacity for explaining actions and behaviours in psychological terms is known as "folk psychology". Likewise, we have an everyday understanding of the norms that govern reasoning and justification, which might be called our "folk epistemics".

This subproject will examine a cluster of philosophically interesting questions about folk psychology and folk epistemics. Questions here include: What aspects of folk psychology and folk epistemics are universal, and what aspects are culturally variable? What type of variability is there, and what is responsible for it? Do people in different cultures produce systematically different meta-theoretical accounts of folk psychology? What can the study of folk psychology and folk epistemics tell us about the fundamental organization of the human mind and about what features of the mind are distinctively human? If folk epistemic norms are culturally variable, what are the consequences of this for traditional philosophical epistemology and theories of rationality?

image11-13 September 2009 — Conference on Culture and the Mind: Folk Psychology, Folk Epistemology, and Cultural Transmission associated with the AHRC Culture and the Mind Project

This public conference was the final event associated with the first phase of the AHRC Culture and the Mind project, which has been exploring cross-cultural universals and cross-cultural variability in the domains of folk psychology and folk epistemology.