Paul Churchland

Paul Churchland

Infobox Philosopher

region = Western Philosophy
era = 21st-century philosophy
color = #B0C4DE

name = Paul Churchland
birth = October 21, 1942 (age 66)
death =
school_tradition = Analytic Philosophy
main_interests = Neurophilosophy Philosophy of science Philosophy of mind Artificial intelligence Epistemology
notable_ideas = Eliminative Materialism
influences = Wilfred Sellars, W. V. Quine, Paul Feyerabend, Karl Popper, Patricia Churchland
influenced =

Paul Churchland is a philosopher noted for his studies in neurophilosophy and the philosophy of mind. ["In more recent history, eliminative materialism has received attention from a broader range of writers, including many concerned not only with the metaphysics of the mind, but also the process of theory change, the status of semantic properties, the nature of psychological explanation and recent developments in cognitive science. Much of this attention has been fostered by the husband-wife team of Paul and Patricia Churchland, whose writings have forced many philosophers and cognitive scientists to take eliminativism more seriously." - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Eliminative Materialism:] He is currently a Professor at the University of California, San Diego, where he holds the Valtz Chair of Philosophy. [See:] Churchland holds a joint appointment with the Cognitive Science Faculty and the Institute for Neural Computation. [ See the UCSD Cognitive Science Inter-Disciplinary Faculty:] He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh in 1969 under the direction of Wilfrid Sellars. [ See:] Churchland is the husband of philosopher Patricia Churchland, and the father of two children. [ See:]

Professional career

Churchland began his professional career as an instructor at the University of Pittsburgh in 1969; [ For contact information that verifies this chronology, see:] he also lectured at the University of Toronto from 1967-69. [ To verify this chronology, see:] In 1969, Churchland took a position at the University of Manitoba, where he would teach for fifteen years: as an assistant professor (69 - 74) and associate professor (74 - 79), and then as a full professor from 1979 - 1984. [ "He spent the first 15 years of his career at the University of Manitoba, taking advantage of its relative isolation to further develop his own approach to the ideas to which he was exposed during his graduate education." See:] Professor Churchland joined the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University in 1982, staying as a member until 1983. [ The Institute for Advanced Study can be reached online to verify this appointment; see:] He joined the faculty at the University of California, San Diego in 1983, serving as Department Chair from 1986 - 1990. [Besides the faculty website referenced above, Professor Churchland's career chronology is available through the Philosophy of Science Section of the University of California at San Diego Department of Philosophy Web-Page. See:]

Philosophical Views

Along with his wife, Churchland is a major proponent of eliminative materialism, which claims that everyday mental concepts such as beliefs, feelings and desires are theoretical constructs without coherent definition; hence we should not expect such concepts to be a necessary part of a scientific understanding of the brain. Just as a modern understanding of science has no need for concepts such as luck or witchcraft to explain the world, Churchland argues that a future neuroscience is likely to have no need for "beliefs" or "feelings" to explain the brain. Instead, the use of objective phenomena such as neurons and their interaction should suffice. He points out that the history of science has seen many previous concepts discarded, such as phlogiston, caloric, the luminiferous ether, and vital forces.

Published Books

Professor Churchland has authored eight books in philosophy, which have been translated into ten different languages.

* "Neurophilosophy at Work", Cambridge University Press, 2007
* "On the Contrary", MIT Press, 1998 (with Patricia Smith Churchland)
* "The Churchlands and Their Critics", Oxford, 1996.
* "The Engine of Reason, The Seat of the Soul: A Philosophical Journey into the Brain", MIT Press, 1995.
* "A Neurocomputational Perspective: The Nature of Mind and the Structure of Science", MIT Press, 1989.
* "Images of Science: Scientific Realism versus Constructive Empiricism", University of Chicago Press, 1985.
* "Matter and Consciousness", MIT Press, 1984.
* "Scientific Realism and the Plasticity of Mind", Cambridge University Press, 1979.

Of his books, "Matter and Consciousness" has been the most frequently and extensively reprinted. [ See (1) Eliminative Materialism in "Introducing Philosophy" (R.C. Solomon, Pages 449 - 453); (2) Behaviorism, Materialism, and Functionalism in "Reason and Responsibility: Readings in Some Basic Problems of Philosophy, Seventh Edition" (Edited by J. Feinberg, Wadsworth Press); (3) Eliminative Materialism in "Introductory Readings in Philosophy" (Edited by J. Pojman, Wadsworth Press)] Both "Scientific Realism and the Plasticity of Mind" and "A Neurocomputational Perspective" have also been reprinted. [ See (1) The Mind-Body Problem in "Philosophy of Mind" (Polish), by the Alethia Foundation (1995); (2) Knowing Qualia: A Reply to Jackson in "The Nature of Consciousness: The Philosophical Debates" edited by N. Block, O. Flanagan and G. Guzeldere (MIT Press - 1997)]

ignificant Essays

Professor Churchland has written a number of published articles that have had a substantial impact in philosophy. His essays have been translated into six different languages.

* "Eliminative Materialism and the Propositional Attitudes", Journal of Philosophy, Volume 78, February 1981.
* "Functionalism, Qualia, and Intentionality", Philosophical Topics, Volume 12, 1981.
* "Reduction, Qualia and Direct Introspection of Brain States", Journal of Philosophy, Volume 82, 1985.
* "Some Reductive Strategies in Cognitive Neurobiology", Mind, Volume 95, 1986.
* "Folk Psychology and the Explanation of Human Behavior", Proceedings of the Aristotelean Society, Supplementary Volume LXII, 1988.
* "Could a Machine Think?", Scientific American, January, 1990.
* "On the Nature of Theories: A Neurocomputational Perspective", Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Volume XIV, 1990.
* "Intertheoretic Reduction: A Neuroscientist's Field Guide", Seminars in Neuroscience, Volume 2, 1991.
* "The Neural Representation of Social Reality", Mind and Morals, 1995.

Each of these selected articles has been reprinted at least four times. Churchland's most famous essay is his 1981 "Eliminative Materialism and the Propositional Attitudes". Published in a leading journal, this essay has been reprinted over twenty times and translated into five languages.

External links

* [ Paul Churchland's homepage]


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  • Patricia Churchland — Infobox Philosopher | region = Western Philosophy era = 21st century philosophy color = #B0C4DE name = Patricia Smith Churchland birth = birth date|1943|07|16 Oliver, British Columbia, Canada death = school tradition = Analytic main interests =… …   Wikipedia

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