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McGeer, V. (2020). Enculturating folk-psychologists. Synthese, 199, 1039-1063.

This paper argues that our folk-psychological expertise is a special case of extended and enculturated cognition where we learn to regulate both our own and others’ thought and action in accord with a wide array of culturally shaped folk-psychological norms. The view has three noteworthy features: (1) it challenges a common assumption that the foundational capacity at work in folk-psychological expertise is one of interpreting behaviour in mentalistic terms (mindreading), arguing instead that successful mindreading is largely a consequence of successful mindshaping; (2) it argues that our folk-psychological expertise is not only socially scaffolded in development, it continues to be socially supported and maintained in maturity, thereby presenting a radically different picture of what mature folk-psychological competency amounts to; (3) it provides grounds for resisting a recent trend in theoretical explanations of quotidian social interaction that downplays the deployment of sophisticated mentalizing resources in understanding what others are doing.


McGeer, V. (2019). Mindshaping is inescapable, social injustice is not. Australian Philosophical Review, 3(1), 48-59.


McGeer, V. (2018). Intelligent Capacities. Proceedings and Addresses of the Aristotelian Society, 118, 1-30.

In The Concept of Mind, Gilbert Ryle argued that a more sophisticated understanding of the dispositional nature of ‘intelligent capacities’ could bolster philosophical resistance to the tempting view that the human mind is possessed of metaphysically ‘occult’ powers and properties. This temptation is powerful in the context of accounting for the special qualities of responsible agency. Incompatibilists indulge the temptation; compatibilists resist it, using a variety of strategies. One recent strategy, reminiscent of Ryle’s, is to exploit a more sophisticated understanding of dispositional properties to account for these qualities. But ‘new dispositionalists’ run up against a ‘hard problem’ that threatens the approach. This paper argues that the threat may be averted by embracing a yet more radical ‘Rylean’ view of the distinctive dispositional nature of intelligent capacities.

McGeer, V. (2018). Scaffolding Agency: A proleptic account of the reactive attitudes. European Journal of Philosophy, 1-23.

This paper examines the methodological claim made famous by P. F. Strawson: that we understand what features are required for responsible agency by exploring our attitudes and practices of holding responsible. What is the presumed metaphysical connection between holding responsible and being fit to be held responsible that makes this claim credible? I propose a non-standard answer to this question, arguing for a view of responsible agency that is neither antirealist nor straightforwardly realist. It is instead “constructivist.” On the “Scaffolding View” I defend, reactive attitudes play an essential role in developing, supporting, and thereby maintaining the capacities that make for responsible agency. Although this view has relatively novel implications for a metaphysical understanding of capacities, its chief virtue, in contrast with more standard views, is in providing a plausible defense of why so-called “responsible agents” genuinely deserve to be treated as such.


McGeer, V., & Pettit, P. (2017). "The empowering theory of trust". In New Philosophical Perspectives on Trust (eds., Paul Faulkner & Thomas Simpson). Oxford University Press.
McGeer, V. (2017). "The Art of Good Hope" reprinted with minor modifications. In The Philosophy of Emotions (eds., Aaron Ben Ze’ev & Angelika Krebs).


McGeer, V., & Pettit, P. (2015). "The hard problem of responsibility". In Oxford University Press (ed., D. Shoemaker) (Vols. 3).
This paper is divided into two parts. In Section 1, I explore and defend a “regulative"
"view” of folk-psychology as against the “standard view” (encompassing both theory- theory  and  simulation  theory,  as  well  as  hybrid  variations).  On  the  regulative  view, folk-psychology  is  conceptualized  in  fundamentally  interpersonal  terms  as  a  “mind- making”   practice   through  which   we  come   to   form  and   regulate   our  minds  in accordance with a rich array of socially shared and socially maintained sense-making norms.  It  is  not,  as  the  standard  view  maintains,  simply  an  epistemic  capacity  for coming  to  know  about  the  mental  states  and  dispositions  already  there.  Importantly, the regulative view can meet and beat the standard at its own epistemic game. But it also does more. In Section 2, I show how the regulative view makes progress on two other problems that remain puzzling on the standard view:  (1) the problem of “first- person authority”  –  accounting for the special features of self-knowledge; and (2) the problem of “reactive responsiveness”  –  accounting for our deep concern with calling"
"one another to account for normatively untoward behaviour, both generally and in the moral domain.
McGeer, V., & Pettit, P. (2015). "The desirability and feasibility of restorative justice". Raisons Politiques, 57.


Funk, F., Gollwitzer, M., & McGeer, V. (2014). "Get the Message: Punishment is Satisfying if the Transgressor Responds to its Communicative Intent". Personality & Social Psychology Bulletin, 40(8), 986-997.
McGeer, V. (2014). "PF Strawson’s Consequentialism". In Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility (Vols. 2). Oxford University Press (eds., D. Shoemaker & N. Tognazzini).


McGeer, V. (2013). "Civilizing Blame". In Blame: Its nature and norms (eds., D. Justin Coates & Neal A. Tognazzini). Oxford University Press.


McGeer, V. (2012). "Co-reactive attitudes and the making of moral community". In Emotions, Imagination and Moral Reasoning (eds., C. MacKenzie & R. Langdon). Psychology Press.


Parkinson, C., Sinnott-Armstrong, W., Koralus, P., Mendelovici, A., & McGeer, V. (2011). "Is morality unified? Evidence that distinct neural systems underlie moral judgment of harm, dishonesty, and disgust". Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 23(10), 3162-3180.


McGeer, V., & Pettit, P. (2009). "Judgmental Stickiness, Rhetorical Therapy". In Judgment: Essays in Honor of John Dunn (eds., R. Bourke & R. Geuss). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
McGeer, V. (2009). The skill of perceiving persons. The Modern Schoolman, 86(2/3), 289-318.
What do we ordinarily perceive when we see a person? This paper examines the virtuoso capacity of typical human beings to see others as minded – as possessed of a rich variety of mental states that animate their activities. The central message of the paper is that we become adept at perceiving the minds of others through developing our expertise in becoming so minded ourselves. “Normal psychological knowing” is what I call a “practice-dependent” skill or expertise. The paper shows this approach deals overcomes certain difficulties often associated with more standard explanations of our capacity for knowing other minds (simulation theory and theory-theory).
McGeer, V. (2009). "The thought and talk of individuals with autism". Metaphilosophy, 40(3-4), 517-530.


McGeer, V. (2008). "Varieties of moral agency: lessons from autism (and psychopathy)". In Moral Psychology, The neuroscience of morality: Emotion, disease and development (ed., Walter Sinnott-Armstrong) (Vols. 3). MIT Press.
McGeer, V. (2008). "The makings of a moral sensibility: Replies to comments from Jeannette Kennett, Heidi Maibom, and Frederique de Vignemont and Uta Frith". In Moral Psychology, The neuroscience of morality: Emotion, disease and development (ed., Walter Sinnott-Armstrong) (Vols. 3). MIT Press.
McGeer, V. (2008). "Trust, hope and empowerment". Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 86(2), 237-254.


McGeer, V. (2007). "The Regulative Dimension of Folk-Psychology". In Folk-psychology Reassessed (eds., Daniel Hutto & Matthew Ratcliffe). Springer.
McGeer, V. (2007). The moral development of first-person authority. European Journal of Philosophy , 16(1), 81-108.
A fully satisfying account of 1st person authority should satisfy two desiderata: (1) explain the privileged relation we bear to our own intentional states sufficient to justify a default presumption of authority; (2) explain why such authority matters for our ability to function well as rational agents.  The traditional epistemological approach fails on the second desideratum, suggesting the more radical alternative of analyzing first-person authority in terms of a rational and self-regulative capacity we have to author our own intentional states.   In comparing different versions of this “agency” model of authoritative self-knowledge, I argue that Richard Moran’s Kantian ideal of rational autonomy is neither necessary nor sufficient for well-functioning agency; worse, the ideal is unsuitable for human beings given our moral developmental liabilities. Using examples drawn from George Eliot’s Middlemarch, I argue we become better authoritative agents through embracing a less ambitious rational ideal.
McGeer, V. (2007). "Why neuroscience matters to cognitive neuropsychology". Synthese, 159(3), 347-371.
Special issue: Experience, action, inference: Functional integration and the mind, edited by Jakob Hohway.


McGeer, V., & Schwitzgebel, E. (2006). "Disorder in the Representational Warehouse". Child Development, 77(6), 1557-1562.


McGeer, V. (2005). "Out of the Mouths of Autistics: Subjective Report and its role in Cognitive Theorising". In Cognition and the Brain: The Philosophy and Neuroscience Movement (eds., Andrew Brook & Kathleen Akins). C.U.P.


McGeer, V. (2004). "Developing Trust on the Internet". Analyse and Kritik, 26, 91-107.
McGeer, V. (2004). "Autistic Self-Awareness". Philosophy, Psychiatry and Psychology, 11(2), 235-251.
McGeer, V. (2004). "The Art of Good Hope". Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 592, 100-127.


McGeer, V., & Gerrans, P. (2003). "Theory of Mind in Autsim and Schizophrenia". In Individual differences in theory of mind: Implications for typical and atypical development (eds., E. Repacholi & V. Slaughter). Brighton: Psychology Press.
McGeer, V. (2003). "The trouble with Mary". Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 84, 384-393.
"Abstract:  Two  arguments  are  famously  held  to  support  the  conclusion that  consciousness  cannot  be  explained  in  purely  physical  or  functional terms  –  hence,  that  physicalism  is  false:  the  modal  argument  and  the knowledge  argument.  While  anti-physicalists  appeal  to  both  arguments, this  paper  argues  there  is  a  methodological  incoherence  in  jointly  main- taining  them:  the  modal  argument  supports  the  possibility  of  zombies; but  the  possibility  of  zombies  undercuts  the  knowledge  argument.  At best,  this  leaves  anti-physicalists  in  a  considerably  weakened  rhetorical position.  At  worst,  it  shows  that  commonsense  intuitions  on  which anti-physicalists  rely  mislead  us  about  the  true  nature  of   conscious"


McGeer, V. (2002). Developing Trust. Philosophical Explorations, 5(1), 21-38.

This paper examines developing trust in two related senses: (1) rationally overcoming distrust, and (2) developing a mature capacity for trusting/distrusting. In focussing exclusively on the first problem, traditional philosophical discussions fail to address how an evidence-based paradigm of rationality is easily co-opted by (immature) agents in support of irrational distrust (or trust) – a manifestation of the second problem. Well-regulated trust requires developing a capacity to tolerate the uncertainties that chracterise relationships among fully autonomous self-directed agents. Early relationships lack this uncertainty since car-givers take primary responsibility for determining a child’s interests, reducing the scope (if not the intensity) of potential conflict between self and other. Once agents recognize that adulthood demands foregoing the security embedded in such relationships of dependency, they are free to embrace a more appropriate paradigm of rationality for guiding their thought and action in interactions with others.

McGeer, V., & Pettit, P. (2002). "The Self-Regulating Mind". Language and Communication, 22(3), 281-299.




McGeer, V. (1994). "Book Review of Akeel Bilgrami’s Belief and Meaning". Journal of Philosophy, 91(8), 430-439.


McGeer, V. (1992). "Rationality and Error: A Surd Spot in Rational Intentionalism". Philosophia, 21(3-4), 295-309.