Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Details

Hutto, D. (2009). Folk psychology as narrative practice. Journal of Consciousness Studies: controversies in science and the humanities, 16 (6-8), 9-39.


There has been a long-standing interest in the putative rolesthat various so-called ‘theory of mind’abilities might play in enablingus to understand and enjoy narratives. Of late, as our understandingof the complexity and diversity of everyday psychological capacitieshas become more nuanced and variegated, new possibilities havebeen articulated: (i) that our capacity for a sophisticated, everydayunderstanding of actions in terms of reason (our folk psychology) mayitself be best characterized as a kind of narrative practice and (ii) thatacquiring the capacity for supplying and digesting reasons explanationsmight (at least normally) depend upon having a special trainingwith narratives. This introductory paper to the volume situates theclaims of those who support the narrative approach to folk psychologyagainst the backdrop of some traditional and new thinking aboutintersubjectivity, social cognition and ‘theory of mind’ abilities. Specialemphasis is laid on the different reasons for being interested inthese claims about narrative practice and folk psychology in light ofvarious empirical and philosophical agendas.