Edgar Phillips (UCL) - 2015-16 Students

Rationality and Perspective-Taking in Interpersonal Understanding

There seems to be a special form of understanding that we can have of other minded agents, their attitudes and actions, which is different in kind from other forms of understanding, in particular those characteristic of the natural sciences. Two natural ways of characterising this form of understanding suggest themselves. One (stressed for example by R. G. Collingwood) is that understanding another in this sense involves being able to imaginatively ‘see’ things from their ‘point of view’, or ‘re-enact’ their thinking. The other (stressed by Donald Davidson) is that this kind of understanding is essentially understanding-as-rational, because rationality is constitutive of the psychological. My research project is concerned with the connection between these two aspects of interpersonal understanding.

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