Incorrigibility, the mental, and materialism

Philosophy Research Archives 3:504-536 (1977)
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 events for which our language does not provide descriptions plausibly considered as incorrigible; even the familiar mental-event reports are not incorrigible which I show through examples that explain how and why persons maintain false beliefs about their most simple sensations, thoughts, indeed anything, I then suggest that Rorty’s conception of the triumph of materialism is simplistic and inadequate in a number of respects. Finally, I attempt to show how difficult if not impossible it is to define or eliminate the mental without presupposing it; in trying to get the barest sense of Rorty's materialist world, the mental forces itself into our mind at every turn.
Keywords Incorrigibility  Materialism  Mental  Metaphysics  Rorty, R
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ISBN(s) 0164-0771
DOI 10.5840/pra1977314
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