Defusing eliminative materialism: Reference and revision

Philosophical Psychology 11 (4):489-509 (1998)
Abstract
The doctrine of eliminative materialism holds that belief-desire psychology is massively referentially disconnected. We claim, however, that it is not at all obvious what it means to be referentially (dis)connected. The two major accounts of reference both lead to serious difficulties for eliminativism: it seems that elimination is either impossible or omnipresent. We explore the idea that reference fixation is a much more local, partial, and context-dependent process than was supposed by the classical accounts. This pragmatic view suggests that elimination is not the prime model for understanding the complex relations between the mind and brain sciences, and that we have little ground for concluding that in general psychological kinds do not exist. We suggest that reference changes are better seen as continuous rather than completely eliminative.
Keywords Eliminativism  Materialism  Reference  Science  Churchland, P
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