One of the entries in the Brain Hammer PMS WIPS (Philosophy and/of Mind (and/or) Science Works In Progress Sessions) has recently been published: “The function of folk psychology: mind reading or mind shaping?” by Tadeusz W. Zawidzki in Philosophical Explorations.
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 propositional attitude 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 propositional attitude ascription. I argue that it serves a mind-shaping function. Roughly, propositional attitude ascription enables human beings to set up regulative ideals that function to mold behavior so as to make it easier to coordinate with.