Published in Synthese: The Cultural Evolution of Human Social Cognition, 2020
I argue that both language acquisition and cultural and social factors contribute to the formation of schemata that facilitate false belief reasoning. While the proposal for an active role of language acquisition in this sense has been partially advanced by several voices in the mentalizing debate, I argue that other accounts addressing this issue present some shortcomings. Specifically, I analyze the existing proposals distinguishing between “structure-oriented” views (with the most relevant representative in de Villiers and de Villiers 2009; de Villiers 2007; de Villiers 2005), that stress the role of language as a set of rules providing syntactic input and providing a representational format, and “cultural/social-oriented views”, that stress the role of social interaction (among others Nelson 2005; Hutto 2008b). Starting from the analysis of these views, I defend my own account of the role of language acquisition in aiding false belief reasoning. I argue that language acquisition plays a pivotal role in the formation of schemata used by pre-schoolers to pass the false belief task. I propose a specific learning mechanism for exploiting linguistic information that taps into specific cognitive abilities, thus making a very concrete suggestion about the role of linguistic input in specific cultural contexts for the development of false belief skills.
Recommended citation: Berio, L. (2020). " Culturally embedded schemata for false belief reasoning " In Synthese, Special Issue: The Cultural Evolution of Human Social Cognition https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11229-020-02655-7