CFS Lecture by Ian Apperly: "When and how do we mindread?"

Lecture by Ian Apperly, Professor of Cognition and Development, University of Birmingham.

According to many accounts in the "theory of mind" tradition, all social interaction and communication essentially depends upon inferences about the mental states of others. A recent backlash suggests that this position is at best an overstatement and at worst a complete mis-characterisation of social interaction. I believe the overstatement view is correct. Much social interaction can be achieved without inferences about mental states, but we clearly do sometimes mindread. Recognising that mindreading inferences are not ubiquitous helps reduce the task of explaining how we mindread, but only somewhat. I will suggest that mindreading remains more difficult to explain than is typically acknowledged, and will draw on recent data to suggest ways in which it might be achieved by infants, children and adults.