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Authors: Newen, Albert
Title: Understanding others : the person model theory
Online publication date: 30-Nov-2016
Language : english
Abstract: According to Interaction Theory (IT), neither Theory Theory (TT) nor Simulation Theory (ST) give an adequate account of how we understand others. Their shared defect, it is claimed, is that both focus on third-person observation of the other, and neglect the role of social interaction. While interaction theory is made to account for the latter, it has problems doing justice to explicit attributions of propositional attitudes, especially from an observational stance. The latter received a new explanation by the Narrative Practice Hypothesis (NPH) which focuses on story-based explanations and tends to underestimate the relevance of nonlinguistic intuitive understanding. In this paper, I first try to do justice to what is plausible about each of the four approaches by accepting that each account introduces one plausible epistemic strategy for understanding others, which leads us to a multiplicity view about the epistemic strategies for understanding others. But it will then be argued that an adequate theory of understanding others needs further adjustment and correction because we need to account for the fact that we usually understand others on the basis of specific background knowledge that becomes more enriched during our life; I thus propose Person Model Theory (PMT) as a fruitful alternative. On my account, understanding turns on developing “person models” of ourselves, of other individuals, and of groups. These person models are the basis on which we register and evaluate persons as having mental as well as physical properties. I argue that person models can be either implicitly represented or explicitly available. This is accounted for by describing two kinds of person model, corresponding to the two ways of understanding others; very early in life we develop implicit person schemata, where a person schema is an implicitly-represented unity of sensory-motor abilities and basic mental phenomena related to one human being (or a group of humans); and we also develop person images, where a person image is a unity of explicitly-registered mental and physical phenomena related to one human being (or a group). I argue that the person model theory has more explanatory power than the other candidates.
DDC: 100 Philosophie
100 Philosophy
Institution: Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Department: FB 05 Philosophie und Philologie
Place: Mainz
Version: Published version
Publication type: Buchbeitrag
License: in Copyright
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Citation: Open MIND
Metzinger, Thomas
Pages or article number: Kap. 26(T)
Publisher: MIND Group
Publisher Place: Frankfurt am Main
Issue date: 2015
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