Folk-Psychology and Analogy

Date of Completion

January 2010


Epistemology|Psychology, Developmental|Psychology, Cognitive




This essay employs principles made available by cognitive theories of analogy in order to address a number of issues in the debate about folk-psychology. I argue that a central way in which people learn folk-psychology is by comparing structured representations that have psychological content. The essay elaborates on this idea and applies it to various philosophical and psychological debates. I argue that a structure-mapping approach to folk-psychology will: (1) resolve the debate between theory-theorists and simulation theorists; (2) help answer the question of how children learn the concepts belief and desire; (3) clarify the role of language in the development of folk-psychological knowledge; (4) explain an important role for pretend play in the development of folk-psychological knowledge; and (5) provide a novel approach to the study of autism that can explain both social and non-social diagnostic features. ^