Mindreading in Infancy


  • The views expressed in Sections 3 and 4 of this article were deeply influenced by conversations with Renée Baillargeon, Gergely Csibra, and Victoria Southgate. I am grateful to Ian Apperly, Mark Engelbert, Logan Fletcher, Brendan Ritchie, Josef Perner, Victoria Southgate, and an anonymous referee for their comments on earlier drafts.

Address for correspondence: Department of Philosophy, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.

Email: pcarruth@umd.edu


Various dichotomies have been proposed to characterize the nature and development of human mindreading capacities, especially in light of recent evidence of mindreading in infants aged 7 to 18 months. This article will examine these suggestions, arguing that none is currently supported by the evidence. Rather, the data support a modular account of the domain-specific component of basic mindreading capacities. This core component is present in infants from a very young age and does not alter fundamentally thereafter. What alters with development are the interactions between core mindreading and other systems, including executive systems, and forms of learning that do not require radical conceptual change.