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Book Title: Scientific Realism and the Plasticity of Mind|
The author of the book: Paul M. Churchland
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 933 KB
Edition: Cambridge University Press
Date of issue: December 19th 1987
ISBN 13: 9780521338271
Read full description of the books Scientific Realism and the Plasticity of Mind:An ambitious book indeed. Churchland covers a host of issues—philosophy of language, epistemology, mind, and science. The book is rather dense and a slow read.
His general conclusion is that observation is heavily theory laden and, moreover, those theories can be wrong. A better scientific understanding can be achieved if (and he thinks, when) a scientific language replaces our current conceptual framework.
Inside this broader argument, he has a wonderful critique and replacement of the synthetic/analytic distinction. He plots theories and ideas on a grid with the vertical access as “semantic importance” and the horizontal as “systemic importance”—the former being the importance of the term or theory's meaning in relation to the other instances of that term's use, and the later being a term or theory’s importance in the broader linguistic scheme. The more north and east the plot, the more engrained the term or theory.
All things considered, a wonderful little philosophy book.
Read information about the authorPaul Churchland is a philosopher noted for his studies in neurophilosophy and the philosophy of mind. He is currently a Professor at the University of California, San Diego, where he holds the Valtz Chair of Philosophy. Churchland holds a joint appointment with the Cognitive Science Faculty and the Institute for Neural Computation. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh in 1969 under the direction of Wilfrid Sellars. Churchland is the husband of philosopher Patricia Churchland, and the father of two children.
Churchland began his professional career as an instructor at the University of Pittsburgh in 1969; he also lectured at the University of Toronto from 1967-69. 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. Professor Churchland joined the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University in 1982, staying as a member until 1983. He joined the faculty at the University of California, San Diego in 1983, serving as Department Chair from 1986 - 1990.
Churchland has supervised a number of PhD students, including P.D. Magnus (now at the University at Albany) and Philip Brey (now at the University of Twente).
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 mind. 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.
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