Fabio Paglieri, Cristiano Castelfranchi

Changing the Mind: Mindreading, Intentional Action and Consciousness

  • Abstract

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Interpreting the behavior of other agents by attributing them inner mental states is no idle occupation: we "read" minds mainly due to the need of changing those minds in ways that suit our own agenda. Such an influence function of social mindreading has been underestimated in the rich literature on this topic, and the first part of our article tries to redress this limit. The second part of the essay is devoted to apply the result of our analysis to individual cognition, under the assumption that a significant part of our self-awareness can be understood as self-applied mindreading: we infer our own inner states by interpreting our overt behavioral patterns. This view has in turn significant implications for understanding cognitive phenomena such as intentional action, self-control, and sense of agency, as discussed in the last part of the article.

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