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Ideas of Paul M. Churchland, by Text

[American, b.1942, Married to Patricia Churchland. Taught at the University of California.]

1981 Eliminative Materialism and Prop. Attitudes
p.64 Folk psychology may not be reducible, but that doesn't make it false
     Full Idea: It may well be that completed neuroscience will not include a reduction of folk psychology, but why should that be a reason to regard it as false? It would only be a reason if irreducibility entailed that they could not possibly both be true.
     From: comment on Paul M. Churchland (Eliminative Materialism and Prop. Attitudes [1981]) by Robert Kirk - Mind and Body 3.9
     A reaction: If all our behaviour had been explained by a future neuro-science, this might not falsify folk psychology, but it would totally marginalise it. It is still possible that dewdrops are placed on leaves by fairies, but this is no longer a hot theory.
Intro p.120 Eliminative materialism says folk psychology will be replaced, not reduced
     Full Idea: Eliminative materialism says our common-sense conception of psychological phenomena is a radically false theory, so defective that both the principles and the ontology of that theory will eventually be displaced (rather than reduced).
     From: Paul M. Churchland (Eliminative Materialism and Prop. Attitudes [1981], Intro)
     A reaction: It is hard to see what you could replace the idea of a 'belief' with in ordinary conversation. We may reduce beliefs to neuronal phenomena, but we can't drop the vocabulary of the macro-phenomena. The physics of weather doesn't eliminate 'storms'.
1996 Folk Psychology
II p.7 If folk psychology gives a network of causal laws, that fits neatly with functionalism
     Full Idea: The portrait of folk psychology as a network of causal laws dovetailed neatly with the emerging philosophy of mind called functionalism.
     From: Paul M. Churchland (Folk Psychology [1996], II)
     A reaction: And from the lower levels functionalism is supported by the notion that the brain is modular. Note the word 'laws'; this implies an underlying precision in folk psychology, which is then easily attacked. Maybe the network is too complex for simple laws.
III p.8 Many mental phenomena are totally unexplained by folk psychology
     Full Idea: Folk psychology fails utterly to explain a considerable variety of central psychological phenomena: mental illness, sleep, creativity, memory, intelligence differences, and many forms of learning, to cite just a few.
     From: Paul M. Churchland (Folk Psychology [1996], III)
     A reaction: If folk psychology is a theory, it will have been developed to predict behaviour, rather than as a full-blown psychological map. The odd thing is that some people seem to be very bad at folk psychology.
III p.8 Folk psychology never makes any progress, and is marginalised by modern science
     Full Idea: Folk psychology has not progressed significantly in the last 2500 years; if anything, it has been steadily in retreat during this period; it does not integrate with modern science, and its emerging wallflower status bodes ill for its future.
     From: Paul M. Churchland (Folk Psychology [1996], III)
     A reaction: [compressed] However, while shares in alchemy and astrology have totally collapsed, folk psychology shows not the slightest sign of going away, and it is unclear how it ever could. See Idea 3177.