About this topic
Summary Eliminative materialism is a revisionary view in the philosophy of mind and of cognitive science, according to which our ordinary, folk psychological notions and categories of mental states are empty, that is, they do not stand for anything in objective reality. Ordinary categories of mental states include propositional attitudes (such as belief, desire, fear) and phenomenal states (such as the subjective aspect of pain, pleasure, colour perception, etc.). The main point of eliminative materialism is that categorization of mental states according to our ordinary, everyday understanding is illegitimate, because it is not supported by the best scientific taxonomies that deal with mental life, such as neuroscience. Some eliminative materialist authors add the further claim that future neuroscience will in fact eliminate all non-scientific vocabulary related to the domain of mental states. 
Key works Early formulations of the view are due to Quine 1960 and Feyerabend 1963. Rorty 1965 was the first influential and elaborate statement and endorsement of the view, later dubbed as "eliminative materialism" by Cornman 1968. Its version that attacks propositional attitudes have been elaborated by Churchland 1981, Churchland 1984, Churchland 1986, and Stich 1983. The literature that is critical of the view is considerable. Some works include Kitcher 1984, Horgan & Woodward 1985, Baker 1987, and Jackson & Pettit 1990.
Introductions Edited collections containing articles for and against the view are Bogdan 1991 and Christensen & Turner 1993. Introductions include Heil 2004, Braddon-Mitchell 2007, and Mandik 2013.
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  1. Dispensing with Mind.R. I. Aaron - 1951 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 52:225-242.
  2. The Wax and the Mechanical Mind: Reexamining Hobbes's Objections to Descartes's Meditations.Marcus P. Adams - 2014 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 22 (3):403-424.
    Many critics, Descartes himself included, have seen Hobbes as uncharitable or even incoherent in his Objections to the Meditations on First Philosophy. I argue that when understood within the wider context of his views of the late 1630s and early 1640s, Hobbes's Objections are coherent and reflect his goal of providing an epistemology consistent with a mechanical philosophy. I demonstrate the importance of this epistemology for understanding his Fourth Objection concerning the nature of the wax and contend that Hobbes's brief (...)
  3. Can Ockham's Razor Cut Through the Mind-Body Problem? A Critical Examination of Churchland's "Raze Dualism" Argument for Materialism.Christopher J. Anderson - 2001 - Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology 21 (1):46-60.
    Notes that the question of materialism's adequacy as a solution to the mind-body problem is important in psychology as fields supported by eliminative materialism aim to "cannibalize" psychology . A common argument for adopting a materialistic worldview, termed the "Raze Dualism argument" in reference to Ockham's razor, is based on the principle of parsimony. It states that materialism is to be considered the superior solution to the mind-body problem because it is simpler than the dualist alternative. In this paper, a (...)
  4. Rorty's Materialism.James W. Austin - 1975 - Auslegung 3 (November):20-28.
  5. Arguing for Eliminativism.José Luis Bermúdez - 2005 - In Brian L. Keeley (ed.), Paul Churchland. Cambridge University Press.
    This paper considers how best an eliminativist might argue for the radical falsity of commonsense psychology. I will be arguing that Paul Churchland’s “official” arguments for eliminative materialism (in, e.g., Churchland 1981) are unsatisfactory, although much of the paper will be developing themes that are clearly present in Churchland’s writings. The eliminativist needs to argue that the representations that feed into action are fundamentally different from those invoked by propositional attitude psychology. The “springs of action” are representations of features that (...)
  6. The Challenge of Scientific Materialism.Richard J. Bernstein - 1968 - International Philosophical Quarterly 8 (2):252-275.
  7. Eliminative Materialism.Charlotte Blease - 2011 - In Michael Bruce & Steven Barbone (eds.), Just the Arguments: 100 of the Most Important Arguments in Western Philosophy. Wiley-Blackwell.
  8. Content and Justification: Philosophical Papers.A. Boghossian Paul - 2008 - Oxford University Press.
    This volume presents a series of influential essays by Paul Boghossian on the theory of content and on its relation to the phenomenon of a priori knowledge. The essays are organized under four headings: the nature of content; content and self-knowledge; knowledge, content, and the a priori; and colour concepts.
  9. Eliminativism and Indeterminate Consciousness.Glenn Braddock - 2002 - Philosophical Psychology 15 (1):37-54.
    One of Daniel Dennett's most sophisticated arguments for his eliminativism about phenomenological properties centers around the color phi phenomenon. He attempts to show that there is no phenomenological fact of the matter concerning the phenomenon of apparent motion because it is impossible to decide between two competing explanations. I argue that the two explanations considered by Dennett are both based on the assumption that a realist account of the phenomenon must include a neat mapping between phenomenological time and objective time. (...)
  10. Ein Gedankenbogen. Rortys Weg vom eliminativen Materialismus zum Pragmatismus.Robert Brandom - 2009 - Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie 57 (1):5-11.
    The paper explores the unity of Richard Rorty's philosophy. It interprets his „eliminative materialism“ as stemming from the insight that the language games we use in talking about ourselves and each other are the result of our own choice, they are not forced on us from the „outside“. It interprets Rorty's later development as an application of this thought to the field of the objective: Can „brute facts“ prescribe how we speak about them? The paper argues that in this field (...)
  11. Nihil Unbound: Naturalism and Anti-Phenomenological Realism.Ray Brassier - 2008 - Palgrave-Macmillan.
    Where much contemporary philosophy seeks to stave off the "threat" of nihilism by safeguarding the experience of meaning--characterized as the defining feature of human existence--from the Enlightenment logic of disenchantment, this book attempts to push nihilism to its ultimate conclusion by forging a link between revisionary naturalism in Anglo-American philosophy and anti-phenomenological realism in recent French philosophy. Contrary to an emerging "post-analytic" consensus which would bridge the analytic-continental divide by uniting Heidegger and Wittgenstein against the twin perils of scientism and (...)
  12. Nihil Unbound: Enlightenment and Extinction.Ray Brassier - 2007 - Palgrave-Macmillan.
    Where much contemporary philosophy seeks to stave off the "threat" of nihilism by safeguarding the experience of meaning--characterized as the defining feature of human existence--from the Enlightenment logic of disenchantment, this book attempts to push nihilism to its ultimate conclusion by forging a link between revisionary naturalism in Anglo-American philosophy and anti-phenomenological realism in recent French philosophy. Contrary to an emerging "post-analytic" consensus which would bridge the analytic-continental divide by uniting Heidegger and Wittgenstein against the twin perils of scientism and (...)
  13. Rorty Revisited.Eric Bush - 1974 - Philosophical Studies 25 (1-2):33-42.
  14. "Rorty Revisited", or "Rorty Revised"?Philip Cam - 1978 - Philosophical Studies 33 (May):377-86.
  15. On Incorrigibility and Eliminative Materialism.William R. Carter - 1974 - Philosophical Studies 28 (2):113-21.
  16. Eliminative Materialism [Selection From Matter and Consciousness].Paul M. Churchland - 2006 - In Maureen Eckert (ed.), Theories of Mind: An Introductory Reader. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 115.
    The identity theory was called into doubt not because the prospects for a materialist account of our mental capacities were thought to be poor, but because it seemed unlikely that the arrival of an adequate materialist theory would bring with it the nice one-to-one match-ups, between the concepts of folk psychology and the concepts of theoretical neuroscience, that intertheoretic reduction requires. The reason for that doubt was the great variety of quite different physical systems that could instantiate the required functional (...)
  17. The Project of Eliminative Materialism.David Kenneth Clark - 1979 - Dissertation, Purdue University
  18. An Empirical Case Against Materialism.Andrew Clifton - manuscript
    Empirical arguments for materialism are highly circumstantial—based, as they are, upon inductions from our knowledge of the physical and upon the fact that mental phenomena have physical correlates, causes and effects. However, the qualitative characteristics of first-person conscious experience are empirically distinct from uncontroversially physical phenomena in being—at least on our present knowledge—thoroughly resistant to the kind of abstract, formal description to which the latter are always, to some degree, readily amenable. The prima facie inference that phenomenal qualities are, most (...)
  19. Theory of Mind, Logical Form and Eliminativism.John M. Collins - 2000 - Philosophical Psychology 13 (4):465-490.
    I argue for a cognitive architecture in which folk psychology is supported by an interface of a ToM module and the language faculty, the latter providing the former with interpreted LF structures which form the content representations of ToM states. I show that LF structures satisfy a range of key features asked of contents. I confront this account of ToM with eliminativism and diagnose and combat the thought that "success" and innateness are inconsistent with the falsity of folk psychology. I (...)
  20. On the Elimination of 'Sensations' and Sensations.James W. Cornman - 1968 - Review of Metaphysics 22 (September):15-35.
  21. The Churchlands' War on Qualia.Mark Crooks - 2008 - In Edmond Wright (ed.), The Case For Qualia. The MIT Press. pp. 203.
    The systematic phenomenology-denial within the works of Paul and Patricia Churchland is critiqued as to its coherence with the known elelmentary physics and physiology of perception. Paul Churchland misidentifies "qualia" with psychology's sensorimotor schemas, while Patricia Churchland illicitly propounds the intertheoretic identities of logical empiricism while rejecting the premises upon which those identities are based. Their analogies from such arguments to an identity of mind and brain thus have no inductive probability.
  22. The Body Comes All the Way Up.Robert Paul Doede - 1994 - International Philosophical Quarterly 34 (2):215-227.
    A critique of two eliminative positions in philosophy of mind in the light of Michael Polanyi's account of mind: Rorty's disappearance theory and Churchland's eliminative materialism.
  23. Eliminative Materialism Reconsidered.Carol Donovan - 1978 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 8 (2):289 - 303.
  24. Eliminative Materialism Reconsidered.Charles F. Donovan - 1978 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 8 (June):289-303.
  25. Incorrigibility, the Mental, and Materialism.Gerald Doppelt - 1977 - Philosophy Research Archives 3:504-536.
    This paper constitutes a thoroughgoing critique of Rorty's interesting attempt to characterize the mental and its elimination within materialism in terms of the incorrigibility of mental reports. I elucidate, criticize, and improve the concept of incorrigibility his position requires. Then I argue: that although mental-state reports are as corrigible as physical reports, this reflects contingent matters which do not affect the boundary of the mental and the physical; that even if the familiar paradigm mental-event reports are incorrigible, there are mental (...)
  26. How Not to Solve a Problem for the Eliminative Materialist.Nicholas Everitt - 1983 - Mind 92 (October):590-92.
  27. A Problem for the Eliminative Materialist.Nicholas Everitt - 1981 - Mind 90 (February):428-34.
  28. D. Eliminative Materialism.Paul Feyerabend - 1991 - In David M. Rosenthal (ed.), The Nature of Mind. Oxford University Press. pp. 266.
  29. Science Without Experience.Paul K. Feyerabend - 1969 - Journal of Philosophy 66 (November):791-795.
  30. Materialism and the Mind-Body Problem.Paul K. Feyerabend - 1963 - Review of Metaphysics 17 (September):49-67.
  31. Mental Events and the Brain.Paul K. Feyerabend - 1963 - Journal of Philosophy 40 (May):295-6.
  32. Reconceiving Eliminative Inference.Patrick Forber - 2011 - Philosophy of Science 78 (2):185-208.
  33. Rorty's Critique of the Privacy Objection to the Identity Theory.Corbin Fowler - forthcoming - Auslegung.
    My purpose here is to undercut rorty's critique of "the privacy objection" to the mind-body identity theory. central to his critique is his argument that in the case of introspective reports, we need to and can distinguish misnaming from misjudging only if we have "public" criteria for the proper use of introspective vocabulary. i grant rorty this much, but argue that this concession does "not" pose a problem for "the privacy objection." he supposes otherwise, i argue, because he "inflates" the (...)
  34. When a Skeptical Hypothesis is Live.Bryan Frances - 2005 - Noûs 39 (4):559–595.
    I’m going to argue for a set of restricted skeptical results: roughly put, we don’t know that fire engines are red, we don’t know that we sometimes have pains in our lower backs, we don’t know that John Rawls was kind, and we don’t even know that we believe any of those truths. However, people unfamiliar with philosophy and cognitive science do know all those things. The skeptical argument is traditional in form: here’s a skeptical hypothesis; you can’t epistemically neutralize (...)
  35. Critique of an Argument for the Reality of Purpose.Danny Frederick - 2012 - Prolegomena 11 (1):25-34.
    Schueler has argued, against the eliminativist, that human purposive action cannot be an illusion because the concept of purpose is not theoretical. He argues that the concept is known directly to be instantiated, through self-awareness; and that to maintain that the concept is theoretical involves an infinite regress. I show that Schueler’s argument fails because all our concepts are theoretical in the sense that we may be mistaken in applying them to our experience. As a consequence, it is conceivable that (...)
  36. New Arguments for 'Intelligent Design'? Review Article on William A. Dembski, Being as Communion: A Metaphysics of Information. [REVIEW]Philippe Gagnon - 2015 - ESSSAT News and Reviews 25 (1):17-24.
    Critical notice assessing the use of information theory in the attempt to build a design inference, and to re-establish some aspects of the program of natural theology, as carried out in this third major monograph devoted to the subject of intelligent design theory by mathematician and philosopher William A. Dembski, after The Design Inference (1998) and No Free Lunch (2002).
  37. Can We Turn a Blind Eye to Eliminativism?Francisco Calvo Garz& X. 000 F. 3 N. - 2001 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 9 (4):485-498.
  38. Can We Turn a Blind Eye to Eliminativism?Francisco Calvo Garzón - 2001 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 9 (4):485-498.
    In this paper I shall reply to two arguments that Stephen Stich (1990; 1991; 1996) has recently put forward against the thesis of eliminative materialism. In a nutshell, Stich argues that (i) the thesis of eliminative materialism, according to which propositional attitudes don't exist, is neither true nor false, and that (ii) even if it were true, that would be philosophically uninteresting. To support (i) and (ii) Stich relies on two premises: (a) that the job of a theory of reference (...)
  39. A Critique of Rorty's Conception of Pragmatism.Paul Giladi - 2015 - European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy 7 (2):168-185.
    The aim of this paper is to argue that Richard Rorty’s claim that pragmatism is opposed to all varieties of metaphysics is fundamentally mistaken. After detailing pragmatist reasons for thinking Rorty’s proposal is justified, I argue that there are more compelling pragmatist reasons to think Rorty’s metaphilosophical interpretation of pragmatism is rather problematic: firstly, Rorty has a narrow understanding of ‘metaphysics’ and he does not take into account Peirce’s argument that it is impossible to eliminate metaphysical concepts from ordinary language (...)
  40. Liberal Naturalism: The Curious Case of Hegel.Paul Giladi - 2014 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 22 (2):248-270.
  41. The Revisability of Commonsense Psychology.Nada Gligorov - 2010 - Theoria 53 (2):53-61.
  42. The Strict Identity Theory of Schlick, Russell, Maxwell, and Feigl.Gordon G. Globus - 1989 - In M. Maxwell & C. Wade Savage (eds.), Science, Mind, and Psychology: Essays in Honor of Grover Maxwell. University Press of America.
  43. Denotation and Eliminative Materialism.Rew A. Godow Jr & Edward R. Wierenga - 1976 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 36 (3):391 - 402.
  44. Eliminative Materialism and Denotation.Rew A. Godow - 1976 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 36 (3):398.
  45. A Note on Eliminative Materialism.Russell B. Goodman - 1974 - Journal of Critical Analysis 5 (January-April):80-83.
  46. On Two Aspects of Eliminative Materialism.Theodore Guleserian - 1971 - Philosophy of Science 38 (2):282-289.
  47. The Problem with Metzinger.Graham Harman - 2011 - Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy 7 (1):7-36.
    This article provides a critical treatment of the ontology underlying Thomas Metzinger’s Being No One. Metzinger asserts that interdisciplinary empirical work must replace ‘armchair’ a priori intuitions into the nature of reality; nonetheless, his own position is riddled with unquestioned a priori assumptions. His central claim that ‘no one has or has ever had a self’ is meant to have an ominous and futuristic ring, but merely repeats a familiar philosophical approach to individuals, which are undermined by reducing them downward (...)
  48. The Disappearance Theory and the Denotation Argument.David R. Hiley - 1980 - Philosophical Studies 37 (April):307-20.
  49. Is Eliminative Materialism Materialistic?David R. Hiley - 1978 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 38 (March):325-37.
  50. What Does It Take to Be a True Believer?: Against the Opulent Ideology of Eliminative Materialism.David Henderson & Horgan & Terrance - 2005 - In Christina E. Erneling & David Martel Johnson (eds.), The Mind as a Scientific Object: Between Brain and Culture. Oup Usa.
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