The Theory Of Mind Mechanism ( Tomm )

2040 Words Dec 2nd, 2014 9 Pages
Though many of us may not realize it, humans have a remarkable set of abilities that allows us to understand, empathize with, and predict others’ thoughts and feelings. In other words, the average person is able to “put himself in another’s shoes.” In our daily lives we tend to take this skill for granted. It is only when something goes wrong that we realize how important it actually is. For autistic individuals, this mindreading deficit is all too real. In fact, an inability to engage in this type of understanding of other’s mental states is often taken as the hallmark sign of autism. Mindreading is defined as the ability to “make sense of other people and to coordinate our behavior with theirs” (Bermudez, 354). Many cognitive scientists believe the theory of mind mechanism (TOMM) is important to mindreading. These scientists contend that autistic individuals suffer from an impairment to this theory of mind module. However, others have argued that theory of mind, which is “the ability to form beliefs about the mental states of others”, is not a modular ability, but instead the result of the interaction of many different cognitive skills. In their paper “Generous or Parsimonious Cognitive Architecture? Cognitive Neuroscience and Theory of Mind,” Philip Gerrans and Valerie E. Stone take this view of theory of mind. I will review this paper and its arguments, then address the response to Gerrans and Stone made by Carl Hildebrand. Gerrans’s and Stone’s argument consists of…
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