Understanding fictional minds without theory of mind!
This paper explores the idea that when dealing with certain kinds of narratives, ‘like it or not’, consumers of fiction will bring the same sorts of skills (or at least a subset of them) to bear that they use when dealing with actual minds. Let us call this the ‘Same Resources Thesis’. I believe the ‘Same Resources Thesis’ is true. But this is because I defend the view that engaging in narrative practices is the normal developmental route through which children acquire the capacity to make sense of what it is to act for a reason. If so, narratives are what provide crucial resources for dealing with actual minds – at least those of a certain sophisticated sort. I argue however that to the extent that we mindread at all, it is likely that we – i.e. those with the appropriate linguistically scaffolded abilities to make mental attributions – rely on our basic mind minding capacities to do so. So theory only comes into play when we mind guess, but theory of mind doesn’t come into it at all, neither when we deal with actual or fictional minds.