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The Topic Re-introduced

The central question for the course is,

What makes others’ minds and actions intelligible to us?

The idea is very simple. We know much about others’ mental lives, their intentional actions, desires, dreams and fears; we also know much about what their words mean, about their significant pauses and facial gestures. What makes these things intelligible to us?
Since I wrote the module, I came to realise that I phrased the question badly.
Who is ‘us’? I’m mostly going to focus on typically developing adult humans, but we will also discuss nonhumans, and infants; we will probably not discuss autistic spectrum disorder and other cases which involve impaired social cognition.
But I realised after I submitted the module proposal that I should have formluated the question slightly differently, so as to avoid the question of who ‘us’ is. What matters for this course is just that, as far as we know, minds and actions are intelligible to *some* others.

What makes
minds and actions
intelligible cognizable to others?

I’m still not happy that I have the question optimally formulated. Maybe instead of ‘intelligible’, I should have said ‘cognizable’.
The question I am asking is essentially one the philosopher Donald Davidson spent most of his career asking ...

‘I want to know what it is about propositional thought---our beliefs, desires, intentions and speech---that makes it intelligible to others.’


Davidson (1995, 14)

The difference is just that whereas Davidson focusses on propositional thought, one theme of my lectures will be that we need to consider a wider range of mental phenomena, including emotional processes, attention and goal-directed action.
But how does any of this relate to social cognition? [PLAN: link this question about what makes others minds and actions intelligible back to social cognition via the idea of radical interpretation* as a computational description.]
Recall our working definition of social cognition ...

Social cognition:

cognition of
others’ actions and mental states
in relation to social functioning.

So my question, What makes minds and actions intelligible to others? is a fundamental question about social cognition. The question requires us to provide an account of how, in principle, social cognition is possible.
Importantly, it is not a question about how we actually track others’ actions or mental states. The question is how we could do so.
So I was asking, Why are we studying Dennett’s Intentional Strategy? And my answer is this. Our topic is social cognition, cognition of others’ actions and mental states. A fundamental question about social cognition is, What makes minds and actions cognizable to others? To answer this question we need a theory of radical interpretation*. And Dennett’s Intentional Strategy is--or can be (mis)interpreted--as the an extremely simple theory of radical interpretation.
With this in mind, let me return to the two objections ...