“The Function of Folk Psychology: Mind Reading or Mind Shaping?” by Tad Zawidzki, George Washington University.
ABSTRACT: I argue for two claims. First I argue against the consensus view that accurate behavioral prediction based on accurate representation of cognitive states, i.e. mind reading, is the sustaining function of mental state ascription. This practice cannot have been selected in evolution and cannot persist, in virtue of its predictive utility, because there are principled reasons why it is inadequate as a tool for behavioral prediction. Second I give reasons that favor an alternative account of the sustaining function of mental state ascription. I argue that it serves a mind shaping function. Roughly, mental state ascription enables human beings to set up regulative ideals that function to mold behavior so as to make it easier to coordinate with.