, Volume 40, Issue 3, pp 459–472

Two Challenges to Hutto’s Enactive Account of Pre-linguistic Social Cognition


DOI: 10.1007/s11406-011-9356-z

Cite this article as:
Lavelle, J.S. Philosophia (2012) 40: 459. doi:10.1007/s11406-011-9356-z


Daniel Hutto’s Enactive account of social cognition maintains that pre- and non-linguistic interactions do not require that the participants represent the psychological states of the other. This goes against traditional ‘cognitivist’ accounts of these social phenomena. This essay examines Hutto’s Enactive account, and proposes two challenges. The account maintains that organisms respond to the behaviours of others, and in doing so respond to the ‘intentional attitude’ which the other has. The first challenge argues that there is no adequate account of how the organisms respond to the correct aspect of the behaviour in each situation. The second challenge argues that the Enactive account cannot account for the flexibility of pre- and non-linguistic responses to others. The essay concludes that these challenges provide more than sufficient reason to doubt the viability of Hutto’s account as an alternative to cogntivist approaches to social cognition.


EnactivismMindreadingIntentional attitudesPre-linguistic understandingSocial cognition

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PPLSUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK