Emeritus director of research at CNRS, member and former director of Institut Jean Nicod (in Paris) and a member of Academia Europea.
Much of my current work is devoted to the study of human social cognition, in particular to the developmental psychological investigation of mental state attribution.
In 1980, I published two books of the rise and fall of logical positivism in the philosophy of science.
In the early 1990’s (as I was a member of CREA), most of my work was devoted to issues related to the naturalization of intentionality and mental causation. In 1997, I published What minds can do (CUP).
In the late 1990’s (as I became a member of the Lyon Institute of Cognitive Science), my work shifted to the philosophy of the cognitive sciences. In collaboration with the cognitive neuroscientist Marc Jeannerod, I worked on the cognitive neuroscience of vision and action, more specifically on the two-systems model of human vision. In 2003, we published Ways of seeing, the scope and limits of visual cognition (OUP).
Following a joint paper with Marc Jeannerod in Trends in the Cognitive Sciences (2005), much of my work from 2005 to 2011 or so was devoted to the significance of the discovery of mirror neurons in non-human primates for human social cognition and for human mindreading (or mental state attribution) in particular.
During this period, I was also involved in interdisciplinary cooperation with the cognitive psychologist Emmanuel Dupoux on the developmental investigation of moral cognition in young human children.
Most of my work in the past ten years or so has been devoted to the puzzle of reconciling the discrepant findings in the developmental investigation of young children’s capacity to attribute false beliefs to others. On the one hand, it has been robustly found that most 3-year-olds fail verbal false-belief tasks. On the other hand, findings based on non-verbal tests strongly suggest that preverbal infants expect an agent to act in accordance with the content of her true or false belief. I have explored a resolution of this puzzle based on two controversial assumptions, the first of which is that findings based on non-verbal tests are reliable evidence of false-belief attribution. The second assumption is that verbal tasks are pragmatically challenging for young children. One constant topic of interest to me from the early 1980’s to the present has been Chomsky’s approach to the human language faculty.