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 & Jackson 2007, and Mandik 2013.
Related categories

95 found
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  1. added 2018-07-25
    Anti-Individualism, Materialism, Naturalism.Tomas Hribek - 2007 - Organon F: Medzinárodný Časopis Pre Analytickú Filozofiu 14 (3):283-302.
    This paper starts from the familiar premise that psychological anti-individualism is incompatible with materialism. It attempts to state more clearly what this incompatibility consists in, and — rather than arguing in detail for any particular resolution — to inquire whether this incompatibility admits any resolution. However, the paper does offer a conditional argument concerning the possibility that the incompatibility is genuine and cannot be resolved. Provided that anti-individualism and materialism cannot be squared, and anti-individualism is correct, it follows that materialism (...)
  2. added 2018-06-12
    Atomismus.Monte Johnson - 2005 - In Jaeger Friedrich (ed.), Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit: Band 1 Abendland–Beleuchtung. Stuttgart: J.N.B. Metzler. pp. 783-789.
  3. added 2018-02-17
    Rorty and His Critics. [REVIEW]Mark Migotti - 2002 - Dialogue 41 (1):208-213.
  4. added 2018-02-16
    Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Mind.Brian P. McLaughlin & Jonathan Cohen (eds.) - 2007 - Wiley-Blackwell.
  5. added 2017-05-22
    The Explication Defence of Arguments From Reference.Mark Pinder - 2017 - Erkenntnis 82 (6):1253-1276.
    In a number of influential papers, Machery, Mallon, Nichols and Stich have presented a powerful critique of so-called arguments from reference, arguments that assume that a particular theory of reference is correct in order to establish a substantive conclusion. The critique is that, due to cross-cultural variation in semantic intuitions supposedly undermining the standard methodology for theorising about reference, the assumption that a theory of reference is correct is unjustified. I argue that the many extant responses to Machery et al.’s (...)
  6. added 2017-03-20
    Reduction and Properties: Response to Merricks.Jaegwon Kim - 1995 - Philosophical Books 36 (3):161-164.
  7. added 2017-03-16
    Why Materialism Is False, and Why It Has Nothing To Do with the Mind.Jaworski William - 2016 - Philosophy 91 (2):183-213.
  8. added 2017-02-14
    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.
  9. added 2017-02-11
    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 (...)
  10. added 2017-02-03
    A Principled Sceptic's Response.Geoffrey Madell - 1986 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 29 (1-4):153 – 168.
    Patricia Churchland's Neurophilosophy argues for Eliminative Materialism, but it is vulnerable to criticism under the following heads: (1) It fails to offer a satisfactory account of the subjective quality of experience, and misinterprets arguments by Nagel and Jackson on subjectivity. (2) Its treatment of intentionality results in a most implausible denial of the immediate ?aboutness? of thoughts, and the view of the mental as essentially what it is interpreted to be cannot be sustained. (3) The attempt to counter the argument (...)
  11. added 2017-01-28
    Folk Psychology and Eliminative Materialism.Stanley Charles Mortel - 1988 - Dissertation, Michigan State University
    A brief examination of some of the traditional dualistic views on the relationship of the mind and body reveals significant problems, especially regarding causal interaction. Our common sense, conceptual framework concerning the explanation and prediction of human behavior is construed as a theory, termed folk psychology. This theory is evaluated relative to a proposed competing theory which comes from the neurosciences, according to a variety of well accepted criteria, and found to be deficient. The relationship of folk psychology to dualism (...)
  12. added 2017-01-22
    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 (...)
  13. added 2017-01-22
    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.
  14. added 2017-01-15
    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 (...)
  15. added 2016-12-08
    The Challenge of Scientific Materialism.Richard J. Bernstein - 1968 - International Philosophical Quarterly 8 (2):252-275.
  16. added 2016-10-22
    Review of Physical Realization by Shoemaker (2009).Michael Starks - 2017 - Philosophy, Human Nature and the Collapse of Civilization Michael Starks 3rd Ed. (2017).
    Over 40 years ago I read a small grey book with metaphysics in the title which began with the words “Metaphysics is dead. Wittgenstein has killed it.” I am one of many who agree but sadly the rest of the world has not gotten the message. Shoemaker’s work is nonsense on stilts but is unusual only in that it never deviates into sense from the first paragraph to the last. At least with Dennett, Carruthers, Churchland etc one gets a breath (...)
  17. added 2015-06-29
    Eliminativist Undercurrents in the New Wave Model of Psychoneural Reduction.Cory Wright - 2000 - Journal of Mind and Behavior 21 (4):413-436.
    "New wave" reductionism aims at advancing a kind of reduction that is stronger than unilateral dependency of the mental on the physical. It revolves around the idea that reduction between theoretical levels is a matter of degree, and can be laid out on a continuum between a "smooth" pole (theoretical identity) and a "bumpy" pole (extremely revisionary). It also entails that both higher and lower levels of the reductive relationship sustain some degree of explanatory autonomy. The new wave predicts that (...)
  18. added 2015-04-14
    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 (...)
  19. added 2015-04-04
    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 (...)
  20. added 2015-03-26
    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).
  21. added 2015-03-19
    Reconceiving Eliminative Inference.Patrick Forber - 2011 - Philosophy of Science 78 (2):185-208.
  22. added 2015-03-14
    Beyond Eliminative Materialism: Some Unnoticed Implications of Churchland’s Pragmatic Pluralism.Teed Rockwell - 2011 - Contemporary Pragmatism 8 (1):173-189.
    Paul Churchland's epistemology contains a tension between two positions, which I will call pragmatic pluralism and eliminative materialism. Pragmatic pluralism became predominant as his epistemology became more neurocomputationally inspired, which saved him from the skepticism implicit in certain passages of the theory of reduction he outlined in Scientific Realism and the Plasticity of Mind. However, once he replaces eliminativism with a neurologically inspired pragmatic pluralism, Churchland cannot claim that folk psychology might be a false theory, in any significant sense; cannot (...)
  23. added 2015-03-14
    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 (...)
  24. added 2015-03-14
    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.
  25. added 2015-03-14
    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 (...)
  26. added 2015-03-14
    D. Eliminative Materialism.Paul Feyerabend - 1991 - In David M. Rosenthal (ed.), The Nature of Mind. Oxford University Press. pp. 266.
  27. added 2015-03-14
    The Case Against Eliminative Materialism.David Laurence Mcnaron - 1989 - Dissertation, University of Miami
    Eliminative materialism is the most radical version of physicalism, the dominant conception of theorizing in psychology. ;The strongest version of eliminative materialism is the view that nothing mental exists. Defenders of this view, such as Churchland, argue that our "common-sense" conception of the mental, which incorporates explanation of behavior in terms of the organism's beliefs and desires, is an empirical theory that will be replaced by advanced neuroscience. ;Other versions hold that an important class of mental states does not exist. (...)
  28. added 2015-03-14
    The Project of Eliminative Materialism.David Kenneth Clark - 1979 - Dissertation, Purdue University
  29. added 2015-03-14
    Eliminative Materialism Reconsidered.Carol Donovan - 1978 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 8 (2):289 - 303.
  30. added 2015-03-14
    Denotation and Eliminative Materialism.Stuart E. Rosenbaum - 1976 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 36 (3):391.
    This paper continues the discussion of the theory of eliminative materialism. The argument of the paper is that there is a simple principle about denotation--Called "the principle of the use of inter-Denoting terms"--Which can be seen to be clearly and necessarily true, And also to be inconsistent with the theory of eliminative materialism.
  31. added 2014-12-03
    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 (...)
  32. added 2014-11-18
    Rorty und der Eliminative Materialismus – eine Mesalliance?Geert Keil - 2001 - In Thomas Schäfer, Udo Tietz & Rüdiger Zill (eds.), Hinter den Spiegeln. Beiträge zur Philosophie Richard Rortys. Suhrkamp. pp. 56-72.
    Im Beitrag von Geert Keil geht es um das Verhältnis zwischen Philosophie und Naturwissenschaft. Keil geht der Frage nach, inwiefern Rortys frühes Eintreten für den Eliminativen Materialismus mit seinen entspannten Auffassungen zum Status der Wissenschaften vereinbar ist. Allgemein sieht Rorty die Wissenschaften als eine Reihe etablierter sozialer Praktiken an, als Werkzeuge, mit bestimmten Teilen der Welt zurechtzukommen. Dieses pragmatistisch-instrumentalistische Wissenschaftsverständnis steht in auffallendem Kontrast zu der Rolle, die den Naturwissenschaften im Rahmen des Eliminativen Materialismus zufallen soll. Dieser Lösungsvorschlag für das (...)
  33. added 2014-06-26
    Review of Paul Churchland The Plasticity of Mind. [REVIEW]Adam Morton - 1982 - Philosophical Review 91 (2):299-303.
    I assess Churchland's views on folk psychology and conceptual thinking, with particular emphasis on the connection between these topics.
  34. added 2014-05-24
    Liberal Naturalism: The Curious Case of Hegel.Paul Giladi - 2014 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 22 (2):248-270.
  35. added 2014-04-02
    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 (...)
  36. added 2014-04-01
    Psychophysical Reductionism Without Type Identities.Justin Tiehen - 2012 - American Philosophical Quarterly 49 (3):223-236.
    Nonreductive physicalists have a causal exclusion problem. Given certain theses all physicalists accept, including psychophysical supervenience and the causal closure of the physical realm, it is difficult to see how irreducible mental phenomena could make a causal difference to the world. The upshot, according to those who push the problem, is that we must embrace reductive physicalism. Only then is mental causation saved. -/- Grant the argument, at least provisionally. Here our focus is the conditional question: What form should one's (...)
  37. added 2014-04-01
    Sensations, Error, and Eliminative Materialism.Mark Leon - 1996 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 34 (1):83-95.
  38. added 2014-03-30
    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 (...)
  39. added 2014-03-27
    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.
  40. added 2014-03-27
    The Implicit Dualism in Eliminative Materialism: What the Churchlands Aren't Telling You.Melinda J. Muse - 1997 - Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology 17 (1):56-66.
    Argues that materialism, specifically eliminative materialism, is dependent on the immaterial language and immaterial experiential realm for its meaning. The mind/body dualism has been a bane to psychology. Eliminative Materialists eliminate the immaterial mind from study, thereby rejecting the dualism. However, in assuming biology reveals everything about human experience, eliminative materialists are faced with a presupposed dualism: biological language, which is supposed to replace any psychological language, is necessarily correlated with and dependent upon meaning in the psychological language. Further, the (...)
  41. added 2014-03-26
    External Accounts of Folk Psychology, Eliminativism, and the Simulation Theory.Joel Pust - 1999 - Mind and Language 14 (1):113-130.
    Stich and Ravenscroft (1994) distinguish between internal and external accounts of folk psychology and argue that this distinction makes a significant difference to the debate over eliminative materialism. I argue that their views about the implications of the internal/external distinction for the debate over eliminativism are mistaken. First, I demonstrate that the first of their two external versions of folk psychology is either not a possible target of eliminativist critique, or not a target distinct from their second version of externalism. (...)
  42. added 2014-03-23
    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 (...)
  43. added 2014-03-21
    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. (...)
  44. added 2014-03-03
    The Revisability of Commonsense Psychology.Nada Gligorov - 2010 - Theoria: Beograd 53 (2):53-61.
  45. added 2014-02-19
    Materialism and the Mind-Body Problem.Paul K. Feyerabend - 1963 - Review of Metaphysics 17 (September):49-67.
  46. added 2014-02-10
    Is Eliminative Materialism Materialistic?David R. Hiley - 1978 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 38 (March):325-37.
  47. added 2014-02-10
    Eliminative Materialism and Denotation.Rew A. Godow - 1976 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 36 (3):398.
  48. added 2014-02-10
    Denotation and Eliminative Materialism.Rew A. Godow & Edward R. Wierenga - 1976 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 36 (3):391 - 402.
  49. added 2013-07-29
    Pain is Mechanism.Simon van Rysewyk - 2013 - Dissertation, University of Tasmania
    What is the relationship between pain and the body? I claim that pain is best explained as a type of personal experience and the bodily response during pain is best explained in terms of a type of mechanical neurophysiologic operation. I apply the radical philosophy of identity theory from philosophy of mind to the relationship between the personal experience of pain and specific neurophysiologic mechanism and argue that the relationship between them is best explained as one of type identity. Specifically, (...)
  50. added 2012-06-11
    Content and Justification: Philosophical Papers.Paul A. Boghossian - 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.
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