Explain What Simulation Theory Is And Evaluate Ravenscroft's Claim That It Is Superior
1392 WordsSep 11, 20156 Pages
Explain what Simulation Theory is and evaluate Ravenscroft’s claim that it is superior to Theory-Theory?
A contentious topic in contemporary psychology and philosophy of mind revolves around how individuals are able to determine the mental states of others; and particularly how empathetic feelings can be explained. Two primary responses come from Simulation Theory (ST) and Theory-Theory (TT). Focussing primarily on the discussion presented by Ian Ravenscroft in his essay “What is it like to be someone else: Simulation and Empathy” this essay shall argue that (despite Ravenscroft’s articulate presentation of arguments and counterarguments that would indeed demonstrate the superiority of ST) his thesis operates on false dichotomy, and…show more content…
language acquisition) and that through human interactions we gradually learn basic principles of folk psychology; tacit knowledge that guides our understanding as to how other humans function.
Turning now to Ravenscroft’s claims that ST is superior to TT, his core argument against TT is that it’s unable to reconcile the gap between theory and experience . Drawing upon intuitive day to day experiences and the thought experiments of Thomas Nagel’s bat and Frank Jackson’s “Mary” (who is confined to an entirely monochromatic existence, until “experiencing” the colour red ) Ravenscroft asserts the crucial distinction that knowing all the signifiers of an emotion (e.g. extreme grief) is entirely different to actually experiencing it. This is indeed a genuine issue with TT, that its defenders attempt to reconcile; but the posited solutions are in the very least exceedingly complex and at most, as Ravenscroft argues, should be rejected on parsimonious grounds.
However, Ravenscroft’s argument assumes a true dichotomy between the two theories; even though this underlying assumption is unstable. Both ST and TT supporters can present paradigmatic cases in which their own theory holds explanatory power; just as Ravenscroft’s example of the desperate rock-climber very much lends itself to ST. Yet, even if we were to accept that ST’s pretend versions do