7. Sharing mental states: Causal and definitional issues in intersubjectivity

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In this chapter we analyse ‘intersubjectivity’ and related psychological concepts. We focus on distinguishing between causal and definitional issues in early social development, between categorical explanations of what an organism is doing and causal explanations of how or why it is doing it. We argue that intersubjectivity is a taxonomic rather than a causal explanatory concept, a technical concept used to classify interactive behaviours and abilities rather than to denote vehicles or causes of those behaviours and abilities. We begin by examining the idea that intersubjective engagement involves the sharing of mental states and argue that the role of mental states and experience in intersubjective engagement is misconstrued. In the final sections we consider the meaning of declarative pointing.


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