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Mirroring, Mind-reading and Smart Behaviour-reading

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This paper examines the claim that mirror neuron activity is the mechanism by which we come to know about the action-related intentions of others (e.g. Gallese et al., 1996; Rizzolatti et al., 1996), i.e. that they are a mechanism for 'mind-reading'. I agree with recent authors (e.g. Hickok, 2008; Jacob, 2008) who reject this view but nevertheless I argue that mirror neurons may still have a role to play in the ways in which we understand one another (social cognition). If we adopt a certain kind of pluralism about social cognition then the mirror neuron system could play a role in social cognition even if it provides no access to the minds of others at all. I argue for this view and consider what the approach might entail for the ontology of the mirror neuron system.
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Keywords: associationist learning; behaviour; mind-reading; mirror neurons; nativism; social cognition

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Reading Centre for Cognition Research, Philosophy Department, University of Reading, UK., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: January 1, 2017

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