Eliminative Materialism

Eliminative materialism (also called eliminativism) is a materialist position in the philosophy of mind. Its primary claim is that people's common-sense understanding of the mind (or folk psychology) is false and that certain classes of mental states that most people believe in do not exist. Some eliminativists argue that no coherent neural basis will be found for many everyday psychological concepts such as belief or desire, since they are poorly defined. Rather, they argue that psychological concepts of behaviour and experience should be judged by how well they reduce to the biological level. Other versions entail the non-existence of conscious mental states such as pain and visual perceptions.

Less radical than eliminativism is Revisionary materialism, which will often argue that the mental state in question will prove to be somewhat reducible to physical phenomena - with some changes to the common sense concept. The reductive materialist contrasts the eliminativist more strongly, arguing that a mental state is well defined, and that further research will result in a more detailed, but not different understanding.

Eliminativism about a class of entities is the view that that class of entities does not exist. For example, all forms of materialism are eliminativist about the soul; modern chemists are eliminativist about phlogiston; and modern physicists are eliminativist about the existence of luminiferous aether. Eliminative materialism is the relatively new (1960s-70s) idea that certain classes of mental entities that commonsense takes for granted, such as beliefs, desires, and the subjective sensation of pain, do not exist. The most common versions are eliminativism about propositional attitudes, as expressed by Paul and Patricia Churchland, and eliminativism about qualia (subjective experience), as expressed by Daniel Dennett and Georges Rey. These philosophers often appeal to an introspection illusion.

Since eliminative materialism claims that future research will fail to find a neuronal basis for various mental phenomena, it must necessarily wait for science to progress further. One might question the position on these grounds, but other philosophers like Churchland argue that eliminativism is often necessary in order to open the minds of thinkers to new evidence and better explanations.

Read more about Eliminative MaterialismOverview

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... cognitive-neuroscience, and that non-reductive materialism is mistaken, then one can adopt a final, more radical position eliminative materialism ... There are several varieties of eliminative materialism, but all maintain that our common-sense "folk psychology" badly misrepresents the nature of some ... The Churchlands believe the same eliminative fate awaits the "sentence-cruncher" model of the mind in which thought and behavior are the result of manipulating sentence-like states called ...

Famous quotes containing the words materialism and/or eliminative:

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