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Mindreading and the Cognitive Architecture Underlying Altruistic Motivation

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Abstract:

In recent attempts to characterize the cognitive mechanisms underlying altruistic motivation, one central question is the extent to which the capacity for altruism depends on the capacity for understanding other minds, or ‘mindreading’. Some theorists maintain that the capacity for altruism is independent of any capacity for mindreading; others maintain that the capacity for altruism depends on fairly sophisticated mindreading skills. I argue that none of the prevailing accounts is adequate. Rather, I argue that altruistic motivation depends on a basic affective system, a ‘Concern Mechanism’, which requires only a minimal capacity for mindreading.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1468-0017.00178

Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC 29424, USA.

Publication date: September 1, 2001

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