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A new perspective on the relationship between metacognition and social cognition: metacognitive concepts as socio-cognitive tools

  • Tadeusz W. ZawidzkiEmail author
Folk Psychology: Pluralistic Approaches
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Folk Psychology: Pluralistic Approaches


I defend an alternative to the two traditional accounts of the relationship between metacognition and social cognition: metacognition as primary versus social cognition as primary. These accounts have complementary explanatory vices and virtues. They also share a natural assumption: that interpretation in terms of mental states is “spectatorial”, aiming exclusively for an objective description of the mental facts about self and others. I argue that if one rejects this assumption in favor of the view that interpretation in terms of mental states also plays important regulative roles with respect to minds and behavior, a new and superior conception of the relationship between metacognition and social cognition comes into view. On this conception, person-level metacognitive concepts are socio-cognitive tools that shape us into better cognitive agents and more predictable cognitive objects, thereby enhancing our abilities at social coordination. Mastery of these metacognitive concepts relies on subpersonal, non-conceptual, procedural metacognition. This reconceptualization of the relationship between metacognition and social cognition combines the complementary explanatory virtues of the two traditional conceptions, while avoiding their complementary explanatory vices.


Social cognition Metacognition Metacognitive concepts Procedural metacognition Mental state attribution Folk psychology as regulative Socio-cognitive tools 



I thank Richard Moore for extremely helpful, extensive comments on an earlier draft.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyGeorge Washington UniversityWashingtonUSA

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