• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

Without taking a single psychology course, ordinary people learn to understand, predict, and explain one another’s actions, thoughts, and motivations. Many cognitive scientists and philosophers claim that our everyday or folk understanding of mental states constitutes a theory of mind. That theory is widely called folk psychology (sometimes commonsense psychology). The terms in which folk psychology are couched are familiar ones of ‘belief’ and ‘desire,’ ‘hunger,’ ‘pain,’ and so forth. According to many theorists, folk psychology plays a central role in our capacity to predict and explain the behavior of ourselves and of others. This book has two goals: (a) to provide a framework for analyzing folk psychologies, and (b) to describe multiple forms that folk psychologies assume in different cultures.


What distinctions do people draw between beautiful and ugly, good and bad, desirable and undesirable, proper and improper, efficient and inefficient?

One way to separate facts from values is to define facts as people's conceptions of what things exist and then to define values as beliefs about the desirability or quality of such things. Hence, statements of fact tell what exists, in what amount, and perhaps their relation to other facts. Statements of value tell whether something is good or bad, well done or poorly done, suitable or unsuitable. An example of a fact is the belief that different kinds of fish exist and each kind displays identifiable characteristics. An example of a value is the opinion that some kinds of fish are better than ...

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