Sharing and Ascribing Goals

By Pierre Jacob. Abstract: This paper assesses the scope and limits of a widely influential model of goal-ascription by human infants: the shared-intentionality model. It derives much of its appeal from its ability to integrate behavioral evidence from developmental psychology with cognitive neuroscientific evidence about the role of mirror neuron activity in non-human primates. The central question raised by this model is whether sharing a goal with an agent is necessary and sufficient for ascribing it to that agent. I argue that advocates of the shared-intentionality model underestimate both the distinction between the target and the goal of a goal-directed action and the gap between sharing and ascribing a goal.