Abstract: Mirror neurons are widely regarded as an important key to social cognition. Despite such wide agreement, there is very little consensus on how or why they are important. The goal of this paper is to clearly explicate the exact role mirror neurons play in social cognition. I aim to answer two questions about the relationship between mirroring and social cognition: What kind of social understanding is involved with mirroring? How is mirroring related to that understanding? I argue that philosophical and empirical considerations lead us to accord a fairly minimal role for mirror neurons in social cognition.
Comment: What processes enable mindreading is a prominent debate in social cognition. A view that has been proposed in recent years is that mirror neurons play a role in mindreading (for example suggested by Goldman, 2006). However, exactly which conclusions mirror neuron research allows us to draw is controversial, and here Spaulding provides interesting objections to a prominent mirror neuron study. This paper is particularly suitable in a social cognition module.