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Empathy, Neural Imaging and the Theory versus Simulation Debate

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This paper considers the debate over how we attribute beliefs, desires, and other mental states to our fellows. Do we employ a theory of mind? Or do we use simulational brain mechanisms, but employ no theory? One point of dispute between these theories focuses upon our ability to have empathic knowledge of the mind of another. I consider whether an argument posed by Ravenscroft settles the debate in favor of Simulation Theory. I suggest that the consideration of empathy does not settle the dispute. Then I look at recent results from false memory research and other research employing neural imaging. I suggest that new discoveries there may help shape the future of the empirical dimension of the debate.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, University of Delaware, Newark, DE, 19716, USA.

Publication date: September 1, 2001

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