Folk Psychology in Churchland’s Eliminative Materialism Essay

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Folk Psychology in Churchland’s Eliminative Materialism

The mind-body problem has kept philosophers busy ever since Descartes proposed it in the sixteenth century. The central question posed by the mind-body problem is the relationship between what we call the body and what we call the mind—one private, abstract, and the origin of all thoughts; the other public, concrete, and the executor of the mind’s commands. Paul Churchland, a proponent of the eliminative materialist view, believes that the solution to the mind-body problem lies in eliminating the single concept that allows this problem to perpetuate—the folk psychological concept of mental states. Churchland argues that the best theory of mind is a materialistic one, not a
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The materialist identity theory was called into doubt because, as Churchland describes, “…it seemed unlikely that the arrival of an adequate materialist theory would being with it the nice one-to-one matchups, between the concepts of folk psychology and the concepts of theoretical neuroscience, that intertheoretic reduction requires” (Churchland 349). The reason for this was that different physical systems can instantiate the same mental state, such as when I notice that both my roommate and her dog are happy. Even though the neurology of a dog’s brain is greatly different from my roommate’s brain, they both still appear to be happy. Hence, identity theory became doubtful because it could not explain how the same mental state can be caused by two completely different physical systems. Because we cannot match mental states with physical states, Churchland advocates that we should eliminate our idea of mental states. We are simply mistaken that they are a part of our ontology; it is not necessary for us to concern ourselves with mental states.

As with any problem, we must first try to get a foothold on concrete data before attempting to construct a rational argument about the problem. Below is a list of characteristics of what we call the “body” and “mind.” By studying the list below, we can see that the mind and body appear to be

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