Challenging the two-systems model of mindreading

By Pierre Jacob.


The two-systems model of mindreading advocated by Ian Apperly and Steve Butterfill seeks to find a middle-ground between full-blown mindreading and either behavior-reading or so-called “sub-mentalizing.” Minimal mindreading is taken to be efficient, automatic and to emerge early in human ontogenetic development. Full-blown mindreading is taken to be flexible, less efficient and to develop later. This chapter raises three challenges for this model. First, it challenges its claim to resolve the developmental puzzle. Secondly, it challenges the claim that the representation of the aspectuality of beliefs falls outside the scope of minimal mindreading. Finally, examination of the contrast between Level-1 and Level-2 visual perspective-taking undermines the sharp dichotomy between automatic and flexible cognitive processes. The alternative picture supported by this chapter is of a single mindreading system that can be used in ways that are more or less effortful as a result of interacting with other cognitive systems, such as working memory and executive control.