Can we read minds by imaging brains?


Will brain imaging technology soon enable neuroscientists to read minds? We cannot answer this question without some understanding of the state of the art in neuroimaging. But neither can we answer this question without some under- standing of the concept invoked by the term “mind reading.” This article is an attempt to develop such understanding. Our analysis proceeds in two stages. In the first stage, we provide a categorical explication of mind reading. The categorical explication articulates empirical conditions that must be satisfied if mind reading is to be achieved. In the second stage, we develop a metric for judging the proficiency of mind reading experiments. The conception of mind reading that emerges helps to reconcile folk psychological judgments about what mind reading must involve with the constraints imposed by empirical strategies for achieving it.