Joint Attention Without Recursive Mindreading: On the Role of Second-Person Engagement

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On a widely held characterization, triadic joint attention is the capacity to perceptually attend to an object or event together with another subject. In the last four decades, research in developmental psychology has provided increasing evidence of the crucial role that this capacity plays in socio-cognitive development, early language acquisition, and the development of perspective-taking. Yet, there is a striking discrepancy between the general agreement that joint attention is critical in various domains, and the lack of theoretical consensus on how to account for it. This paper pursues three interrelated aims: (i) it examines the contrast between reductive and non-reductive views of (triadic) joint attention, by bringing into focus the notion of recursive mindreading; (ii) it assembles, advances, and discusses a number of arguments against reductive views; (iii) finally, in dialogue with some prominent non-reductive views, it concludes by outlining the case for a non-reductive view that gives pride of place to the idea that co-attenders relate to one another as a ‘you’.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPhilosophical Psychology
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)550-580
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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