This thesis discusses two of the building blocks of human social life, namely the ability to attribute mental states – i.e., mindreading – and the ability to formulate moral judgments. More precisely, by drawing upon a number of empirical discoveries from developmental psychology, cognitive neuroscience, neuropsychology and psychopathology, I assess the account of the cognitive mechanisms underlying mindreading and moral judgment given by the Simulation Theory (ST). According to ST, mindreading crucially involves the ability to simulate others’ mental states. In the first three chapters, I confront this approach with the Theory-Theory (TT), which maintains that mindreading is rather an inferential process based on the tacit knowledge of a theory of mind. I argue that there are different reasons to favor ST over TT. In a nutshell, ST elegantly explains the presence of egocentric errors in mindreading, the presence of both mindreading impairments and lack of pretend play in autism, and the ability to attribute conscious experiences to others. Moreover, ST is supported by the existence of mirror mechanisms for action, disgust, touch, and pain. However, I do not claim that mindreading is simulational all the way through. Rather, simulation is the core cognitive mechanism underlying mindreading, but it is nonetheless supplemented by language-acquired folk-psychological information. I defend such claim with reference to disgust attribution. Drawing upon data from individuals suffering from Huntington’s Disease, I hypothesize the existence of two systems for disgust mindreading on the basis of visual stimuli: (a) a core, mirror-based simulation mechanism for face-based disgust mindreading; (b) a supplementary mechanism that takes as input the representation that an individual is perceiving an object pertaining to the ‘disgust’ category, and, on the basis of folk psychological information about disgust, generates as output the representation that that individual is in the functional state of disgust. In chapter four, I discuss moral cognition. ST proposes a sentimentalist theory according to which moral judgment entirely stems from the ability to empathize with the victims of moral transgressions. Even though I argue in favor of sentimentalism over rationalism, I am highly skeptical about the account of moral judgment given by ST. Rather, on the basis of data from psychopathy and autism, and elaborating on the Sentimental Rules account of moral cognition, I claim that moral judgment depends on three distinct cognitive mechanisms: (i) a body of internally represented normative rules; (ii) the ability to emotionally react to others’ distress; (iii) the mindreading ability to attribute intentions.
|Titolo:||MINDREADING, DISGUST, AND MORAL JUDGMENT. SCOPE AND LIMITS OF THE SIMULATIONIST APPROACH TO SOCIAL COGNITION.|
|Supervisori e coordinatori interni:||PETTOELLO, RENATO|
|Data di pubblicazione:||11-mag-2011|
|Parole Chiave:||Mindreading ; Moral Judgment ; Disgust ; Social Cognition ; Simulation ; Mirror Neurons|
|Settore Scientifico Disciplinare:||Settore M-FIL/05 - Filosofia e Teoria dei Linguaggi|
|Citazione:||MINDREADING, DISGUST, AND MORAL JUDGMENT. SCOPE AND LIMITS OF THE SIMULATIONIST APPROACH TO SOCIAL COGNITION. / L. Barlassina ; tutor: C. Calabi ; coordinatore: R. Pettoello. - Milano : Università degli studi di Milano. Universita' degli Studi di Milano, 2011 May 11. ((23. ciclo, Anno Accademico 2010.|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||Tesi di dottorato|