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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences : Philosophy

Postgraduate Course: Social Cognition MSc (PHIL11111)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course examines the question of how we understand other people's behaviour.

Shared with UG course Social Cognition (PHIL10131)

For courses co-taught with undergraduate students and with no remaining undergraduate spaces left, a maximum of 8 MSc students can join the course. Priority will be given to MSc students who wish to take the course for credit on a first come first served basis after matriculation.
Course description The course examines different philosophical theories concerning how we attribute mental states to others, and discusses related questions such as whether this ability is unique to the human species, and whether it is innate. It will also examine the relation between social cognition and certain moral issues, such as altruism. The course is strongly interdisciplinary, and will draw on sources from developmental psychology, neuroscience and anthropology, to support philosophical arguments.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate knowledge about the current philosophical debates concerning our ability to attribute mental states to others
  2. understand some of the primary methodologies used in current cognitive science
  3. demonstrate knowledge of key empirical findings in the field of social cognition, and an understanding of how they can be used to critique philosophical arguments in this area
  4. bring analytic and critical skills to bear on texts in both philosophy and psychology
  5. demonstrate knowledge about core issues in the philosophy of psychology, e.g. the language of thought hypothesis, the representational theory of mind, innateness
Reading List
Here is a sample bibliography. Sources will be available in the University Library or on-line. Actual content may vary from year to year, and will be set out in the course guide which will be distributed each year.

Allen, C. & Beckoff, M. (1997). Species of Mind: The philosophy and biology of cognitive ethology Cambridge, M.I.T Press. ch. 1 and 2.
Astuti, R. (2001). Are we all natural dualists? A cognitive developmental approach. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 7, 429 - 447.
Ayede, M. (2004). The language of thought hypothesis, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Baillargeon, R., Scott, R., & He, Z. (2010). False belief understanding in infants. Trends in Cognitive Sciences , 14, 110 - 118.
Baron-Cohen, S. (1995). Mindblindness: an essay on autism and theory of mind. MIT Press.
Baron-Cohen, S., & Swettenham, J. (1996). The relationship between SAM and ToMM: two hypotheses. In P. Carruthers, & P. Smith (Eds.), Theories of Theories of Mind. 158 - 168.
Bermudez, J. L. (2003). Ascribing thoughts to non-linguistic creatures. Facta Philosophica, 5 313 - 334.
Botterill, G. (1996). Folk psychology and theoretical status. In P. Carruthers, & P. Smith (Eds.), Theories of Theories of Mind. pp. 105-119.
Botterill, G. (2007). Interface and cognitive architecture: do we understand commonsense psychology well enough to tackle the interface problem? SWIF Philosophy of Mind Review, 5, 20 - 31.
Botterill, G. & Carruthers, P. (1999). The Philosophy of Psychology ch.1,2,4
Byrne, R., & Whiten, A. (Eds.). (1988). Machiavellian Intelligence. Clarendon.
Byrne, R., & Whiten, A. (Eds.). (1997). Machiavellian Intelligence II. Clarendon.
Callaghen, T., Rochat, P., Lillard, A. et al. (2005). Synchrony in the onset of mental state reasoning. Psychological Science, 16, 378 - 384.
Calvo-Merino, B., Glaser, D., Grčzes, J., Passingham, R., & Haggard, P. (2005). Action observation and acquired motor skills: an FMRI study with expert dancers. Cerebral Cortex , 15, 1243-1249.
Carpenter, M. (2009). Just how joint is joint action in infancy? Topics in Cognitive Science, 1. 380 - 92
Carruthers, P. (2005). On being simple minded. American Philosophical Quarterly, 41. 205 - 220
Carruthers, P. (2009). How we know our own minds: the relationship between mindreading and metacognition. Behavioural and Brain Sciences , 32, 121 - 182
Carruthers, P. & Smith, P. (1996). Theories of Theories of Mind. Cambridge University Press. (All articles relevant, especially parts 1 and 2).
Churchland, P. (1981). Eliminative materialism and propositional attitudes. Journal of Philosophy, 78. 67 - 90
Churchland, P. (1994). Folk Psychology (2). In S. Guttenplan (Ed.), A Companion to the Philosophy of Mind. pp. 308 - 310.
Crane, T. (1995/2003). The Mechanical Mind (2nd Edition ed.). Routledge. pp. 8 - 20
Csibra, G. (2005, January 2). Mirror neurons and action observation. Is simulation involved? Retrieved from
Csibra, G. (2007). Action mirroring and action understanding: an alternative account. In P. Haggard, Y. Rosetti, & M. Kawato (Eds.), Sensorimotor foundations of higher cognition: attention and performance XXII (pp. 435 - 459). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Csibra, G. & Gergeley, G. (2009). Natural Pedagogy. Trends in Cognitive Science, 13. 148 - 153.
Cummins, R. (1989). Meaning and Mental Representation. M.I.T. Press. pp. 1 - 26
Davidson, D. (1982). Rational Animals. Dialectica, 36, 317 - 328
Davies, M., & Stone, T. (1998). Folk psychology and mental simulation. In A. O'Hear (Ed.), Contemporary Issues in the Philosophy of Mind (pp. 53-82). Cambridge University Press.
De Waal, F. (2009). Primates and Philosophers. Princeton University Press.
Dennet, D. (1977). A cure for the common code. Reprinted in Brainstorms, ch.6. (1978) MIT Press.
Dennett, D. (1971). Intentional Systems. Journal of Philosophy, 68, 87 - 106.
Eilan, N. (2005). Joint attention, communication and mind. In N. Eilan, C. Hoerl, T. McCormack, & J. Roessler (Eds.), Joint Attention: Communication and other minds (pp. 1 - 34). Clarendon Press.
Fitzpatrick, S. (2009). The primate mindreading controversy: a case study in simplicity and methodology in animal psychology. In R. Lurz (Ed.), The philosophy of animal minds (pp. 224 - 246). Cambridge University Press.
Fodor, J. (1987). Psychosemantics. (Appendix). MIT Press.
Fodor, J. (1987). Mental Representation: an introduction. In N. Rescher, Scientific Enquiry in Philosophical Perspective (pp. 105 - 128). University Press of America.
Gallagher, S. (2001). The practice of mind: theory, simulation or primary interaction? Journal of Consciousness Studies , 8, 83-108.
Gallagher, S. (2004). Understanding interpersonal problems in autism: Interaction theory as an alternative to theory of mind. Philosophy, Psychiatry and Psychology , 11, 199 - 217.
Gallagher, S. (2005). How the Body Shapes the Mind. Clarendon.
Gallagher, S. (2007). Simulation trouble. Social Neuroscience , 2, 353 - 365.
Gallagher, S. (2008). Inference or interaction: social cognition without precursors. Philosophical Explorations , 11, 163 - 174.
Gallagher, S. (2008). Direct perception in an intersubjective context. Consciousness and Cognition , 17, 535-543.
Gallagher, S., & Zahavi, D. (2008). The Phenomenological Mind. (ch. 9). Routledge.
Gallese, V. (2001). The 'shared manifold' hypothesis: from mirror neurons to empathy. Journal of Consciousness Studies , 8, 33-50.
Gallese, V. (2006). Embodied simulation: from mirror neuron systems to interpersonal relations. Empathy and Fairness (pp. 3 - 20). Novartis Foundation.
Gallese, V. (2009). Motor abstraction: a neuroscientific account of how action goals and intentions are mapped and understood. Psychological Research , 73, 486 - 498
Gallese, V. (2007). Before and below 'theory of mind': embodied simulation and the neural correlates of social cognition. Philosophical transactions of the royal society of the biological sciences , 362, 659
Gallese, V. (2010). Neuroscientific approach to intersubjectivity. In T. Fuchs, H. C. Sattell, & P. Henningsen (Eds.), The Embodied Self: Dimensions, Coherence and Disorders. pp. 77 - 92.
Gallese, V., & Goldman, A. (1998). Mirror neurons and the simulation theory of mindreading. Trends in Cognitive Sciences , 2, 493-501.
Gallese, V., Eagle, M., & Migone, P. (2007). Intentional attunement: mirror neurons and the neural underpinnings of interpersonal relations. Journal of the American Psycholanalytic Association , 131 - 176.
Gallistel, C.R. & Gibbon, J. (2001). Computational versus associative models of simple conditioning. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 10, 146 - 150.
Gergely, G., Bekkering, H., & Kirįly, I. (2002). Rational imitation in preverbal infants. Nature , 415, 755.
Gergely, G., & Csibra, G. (2003). Teleological reasoning in infancy: the naive theory of rational action. Trends in Cognitive Science , 7, 287-291.
Gergely, G., & Csibra, G. (2006). Sylvia's recipe: The role of imitation and pedagogy in the transmission of human culture. In N. Enfield, & S. Levinson (Eds.), Roots of Human Sociality. pp. 229 -225.
Griffiths, P. (2002). What is Innateness? Monist, 85
Goldman, A. (1989). Interpretation Psychologized. Mind and Language , 4, 161 - 185.
Goldman, A. (2006). Simulating Minds. (ch. 2). Oxford University Press.
Gopnik, A., & Astington, J. (1988). Children's understanding of representational change and its relation to the understanding of false belief and the appearance-reality distinction. Child Development , 59, 26-37.
Heal, J. (1986). Replication and Functionalism. In J. Butterfield (Ed.), Language, Mind and Logic (pp. 135 - 150). Cambridge University Press.
Henrich, J., Heine, S.,& Norenzayan, A. (2010) The weirdest people in the world? Brain and Behavioural Science, 33, 61 - 83.
Heyes, C. (1998). Theory of mind in non-human primates [and peer commentaries]. Brain and Behavioural Sciences 21, 101 - 148
Hobson, R. (1991). Against the theory of 'Theory of Mind'. British Journal of Developmental Psychology , 9, 33 - 51.
Hurley, S. (2008). The shared circuits model: how control, mirroring, and simulation can enable imitation, deliberation, and mindreading. Behavioural Brain Science , 31, 1 - 22.
Hutto, D. (2004). The limits of spectatorial folk psychology. Mind and Language , 548-573.
Hutto, D. (2008). Folk Psychological Narratives: The sociocultural basis of understanding reasons. MIT Press.
Hutto, D. (2009). Interacting? Yes. But, of what kind and on what basis? Consciousnes and Cognition , 18, 543 -546
Hutto, D. & Ratcliffe, M. (Eds.). (2008). Folk Psychology Re-assessed. Springer.
Iacoboni, M., Molnar-Szakacs, I., Gallese, V., Buccino, G., Mazziotta, J., & Rizzolatti, G. (2005). Grasping the intentions of others with one's own mirror neuron system. PLoS Biology , 3, 529 - 535.
Johnson, S. (2000). The recognition of mentalistic agents in infancy. Trends in Cognitive Sciences , 4, 22 - 28
Knobe, J. (2003). Intentional action in folk psychology: an experimental investigation. Philosophical Psychology, 16 309 - 324.
Kohler, E., Keysers, C., Umiltą, M., Fogassi, L., Gallese, V., & Rizzolatti, G. (2002). Hearing sounds, understanding actions: action representation in mirror neurons. Science , 297, 846 - 848.
Lingnau, A., Gesierich, B., & Caramazza, A. (2009). Asymmetric fMRI adaptation revels no evidence for mirror neurons in humans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , 1 - 6.
Laurence, S. & Margolis, E. (1997) Regress arguments against the language of thought. Analysis, 57, 60 - 66.
Lewis, D. (1972). Psychophysical and Theoretical Identifications. Australasian Journal of Philosophy , 50, 249 - 258. (read pp. 248 - 253).
Lillard, A. (1998). Ethnopsychologies: Cultural variations in theories of mind. Psychological Bulletin, 123. 3 - 32
Lillard, A. (1999). Developing a cultural theory of mind: The CIAO approach. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 8 57
Luo, Y., & Baillargeon, R. (2005). Can a self-propelled box have a goal? Psychological Science, 16 (8), 601-608.
Machery, E., Mallon, R. Nichols, S. & Stich, S. (2004) Semantics, cross-cultural style. Cognition 92, B1 - B12.
Newen, A., & Schlicht, T. (2009). The person model thoery of understanding other minds. Grazer Philosophische Studien , 79, 209 - 242.
Nichols, S. & Knobe, J. (2007). Moral responsibility and determinism: the cognitive science of folk intuitions. Nous, 41, 663 - 685.
Nichols, S., & Stich, S. (2003). Mindreading.(ch.2). Oxford University Press.
Nichols, S., Stich, S. & Weinberg, J. (2003). Meta-Skepticism: Meditations of Ethno-epistemology. In S. Luper (Ed.) The Skeptics. Ashgate Publishing.
Nisbett, R. (2003). The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently and Why. Nicolas Brealey Publishing.
Nisbett, R.,Peng, K., Choi, I., and Norenzayan, A. (2001). Culture and Sytems of Thought: Holistic versus Analytic Cognition. Psychological Review, 108. 291 - 310
Onishi, K., & Baillargeon, R. (2005). Do 15 month-old infants understand false beliefs? Science, 308, 255-58.
Premack, D., & Woodruff, G. (1978). Does the chimpanzee have a theory of mind? The Behavioural and Brain Sciences , 1, 515 - 26.
Povinelli, D. & Giambrone, S. (1999). Inferring other minds: Failure of the argument by analogy. Philosophical Topics, 27, 167 - 201.
Povinelli, D., & Vonk, J. (2003). Chimpanzee minds: suspiciously human? Trends in Cognitive Science , 7, 157 - 160.
Povinelli, D., & Vonk, J. (2004). We donæt need a microscope to explore to chimpanzee's mind. Mind and Language, 19, 1 - 28.
Putnam, H. (1967). The 'Innateness Hypothesis' and explanatory models in linguistics. Synthese, 17. 12 - 22.
Ratcliffe, M. (2006). 'Folk psychology' is not folk psychology. Phenomenology and the cognitive sciences , 5, 31 - 52.
Ratcliffe, M. (2006). Rethinking Commonsense Psychology (ch. 5). Palgrave Macmillan
Reddy, V. (2008). How Infants Know Minds. (ch.2). Harvard University Press
Repacholi, B., & Gopnik, A. (1997). Early understanding of desires: evidence from 14 and 18 month olds. Developmental Psychology , 33, 12-21.
Russell, B. (1948/1991). Analogy: Knowing other minds. In Rosenthal, D.M. (Ed.) The Nature of Mind. Oxford: OUP. 89-92
Rizzolatti, G., & Craighero, L. (2004). The mirror neuron system. Annual Review of Neuroscience , 27, 169 - 192.
Rizzolatti, G., Fadiga, L., Fogassi, L., & Gallese, V. (1996). Premotor cortex and the recognition of motor actions. Cognitive Brain Research , 3, 131-141
Rizzolatti, G., Fogassi, L., & Gallese, V. (2001). Neurophysical mechanisms underlying the understanding and imitation of action. Nature Reviews Neuroscience , 2, 661-670.
Rizzolatti, G., Fogassi, L., & Gallese, V. (2000). Cortical mechanisms subserving object grasping and action recognition. In M. Gazzaniga (Ed.), The New Cognitive Neurosciences. pp. 539 - 552.
Ruffman, T. (1996). Do children understand the mind by means of simulation or a theory? Mind , 11, 387 - 414.
Ruffman, T., Perner, J., Naito, M., Parkin, L., & Clements, W. (1998). Older (but not younger) siblings facilitate false belief understanding. Developmental Psychology , 34, 161 - 174.
Ryle, G. (1949/2000). The Concept of Mind. Penguin Classics.
Saidel, E. (2002). Animal minds, human minds. In M. Beckoff, & Allen, C. (Eds.) The Cognitive Animal. Cambridge, MA. MIT press 53 - 59.
Samuels, R. (2002). Nativism in cognitive science. Mind and Language, 17. 233 - 265
Samuels, R. (2008). Is innateness a confused concept? In P. Carruthers, S. Laurence and S. Stich (Eds.), The Innate Mind volume 3: Foundations and the Future. (pp. 17 - 36). O.U.P
Saxe, R. (2005). Against simulation: the argument from error. Trends in Cognitive Sciences , 9, 174 - 179.
Segal, G. (1996). The modularity theory of mind. In P. Carruthers, & P. Smith, Theories of Theories of Mind. pp. 141 - 157.
Skinner, B.F. (1947). 'Superstition' in the pigeon. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 38 168 - 172
Shapiro, L. (2010). Embodied Cognition. Routledge.
Sober, E. (2000). Evolution and the problem of other minds. Journal of Philosophy, 97, 365 - 386.
Southgate, V., Senju, A., & Csibra, G. (2007). Action anticipation through attribution of false belief by 2-year-olds. Psychological Science , 18, 587 - 592.
Stamenov, M. & Gallese, V. (Eds.). (2002). Mirror Neurons and the Evolution of Brain and Language. John Benjamins.
Stich, S. (1975). Introduction. In S. Stich (Ed.) Innate Ideas. (pp. 1 - 24) UCalifornia Press
Stich, S. (1979). Do animals have beliefs? Australian Journal of Philosophy, 57, 15 - 28
Stich, S., & Nichols, S. (1993). Folk psychology: Simulation or tacit theory? Philosophical Issues , 3, 225
Surian, L., Caldi, S., & Sperber, D. (2007). Attribution of beliefs by 13 month old infants. Psychological Sciences , 18, 580 - 586.
Tomasello, M., Call, J., & Hare, B. (2003). Chimpanzees understand psychological states: the question is which ones and to what extent. Trends in Cognitive Science, 7, 153 - 156
Tomasello, M., Carpenter, M., Call, J., Behne, T., & Moll, H. (2005). Understanding and sharing intentions: the origins of cultural cognition. Behavioural and Brain Sciences , 28, 675 - 735.
Träuble, B., Marinovic, V., & Pauen, S. (2010). Early theory of mind competencies: do infants understand other's beliefs? Infancy , 2010, 434 - 444.
Umiltą, M., Escola, L., Intskirveli, I., Grammont, F., Rochat, M., Caruana, F., et al. (2008). When pliers become fingers in the monkey motor system. PNAS , 105, 2209-2213.
Umiltą, M., Kohler, E., Gallese, V., Fogassi, L., Fadiga, L., Keysers, C., et al. (2001). I know what you are doing. Neuron , 31, 155-165.
Vinden, P. (1996). Junķn Quechua children's understanding of mind. Child Development , 67, 1707 - 1716.
Warneken, F., & Tomasello, M. (2007). Helping and co-operation at 14 months of age. Infancy , 11, 271 - 294.
Warneken, F., Hare, B., Melis, A., Hanus, D., & Tomasello, M. (2007). Spontaneous altruism by chimpanzees and young children. PLoS Biology , 5, 1414
Watson, J.B. (1913). Psychology as the behaviourist views it. Psychological Review, 20 155 - 177
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Additional Information
Course URL Please see Learn page
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students will also develop the following transferable skills:

- The ability to present complex ideas in a concise and clear manner in both oral and written work.
- Analytic and critical skills
- The development of research skills, such as using library and online resources
Additional Class Delivery Information Taught by Dr Suilin Lavelle. Please note this course is not open to auditors.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Suilin Lavelle
Tel: (0131 6)50 3665
Course secretaryMs Becky Verdon
Tel: (0131 6)50 3860
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