First-person Folk Psychology: Mindreading or Mindshaping?

  • Leon De Bruin University of Nijmegen


Proponents of mindshaping argue that third-person folk psychology (i.e., the ascription of mental states to others) is not primarily about "reading" mental states for the purpose of behavior prediction and explanation. Instead, they claim that third-person folk psychology is first and foremost a regulative practice -- one that "shapes" mental states in accordance with the norms of a shared folk psychological framework. This paper investigates to what extent the core assumptions behind the mindshaping hypothesis are compatible with an account of first-person folk psychology (i.e., the ascription of mental states to ourselves) that is based on the notion of "self-regulative agency."


Bruner, J.S. (1990). Acts of meaning. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.

Carruthers, P. (2009). How we know our own minds: The relationship between mindreading and metacognition. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 32: 121-81.

Carruthers, P. (2011). The Opacity of Mind. Oxford University Press.

Gallagher, S. (2001). The practice of mind: Theory, simulation or primary interaction? Journal of Consciousness Studies 8: 83–108.

Gallagher, S. (2012). In defense of phenomenological approaches to social cognition: Interacting with the critics. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 3(2): 187-212.

Hutto, D.D. 2008. Folk psychological narratives: The sociocultural basis of understanding reasons. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Kloosterboer, N. (2015). Transparent emotions? A critical analysis of Moran's transparency claim, Philosophical Explorations 18, 2: 246.

McGeer, V. (1996). Is ‘Self-Knowledge’ an Empirical Problem? Renegotiating the Space of Philosophical Explanation. Journal of Philosophy 93(10), 483-515.

McGeer, V. (2007). The regulative dimension of folk psychology. In D. Hutto and M. Ratcliffe (eds.), Folk-Psychology Re-Assessed. Dordrecht: Springer, pp. 138–156.

McGeer, V. (2008). The moral development of first-person authority. European Journal of Philosophy 16(1): 81-108.

Moran, R. (2001). Authority and Estrangement. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press.

Pettit, P. and McGeer, V. (2002) The Self-Regulating Mind. Language and Communication 22(3): 281-299.

Schwitzgebel, E. (2010). Acting contrary to our professed beliefs or the gulf between occurrent judgment and dispositional belief. Pacific Philosophical Quaterly 91: 531-553.

Zawidzki, T. (2013). Mindshaping: The linchpin of the Human Socio-Cognitive Syndrome. MIT Press.
How to Cite
DE BRUIN, Leon. First-person Folk Psychology: Mindreading or Mindshaping?. Studia Philosophica Estonica, [S.l.], p. 170-183, feb. 2017. ISSN 1736-5899. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 21 oct. 2018. doi:


McGeer, Moran, first-person folk psychology, mindshaping, mindreading