• This is a political forum that is non-biased/non-partisan and treats every persons position on topics equally. This debate forum is not aligned to any political party. In today's politics, many ideas are split between and even within all the political parties. Often we find ourselves agreeing on one platform but some topics break our mold. We are here to discuss them in a civil political debate. If this is your first visit to our political forums, be sure to check out the RULES. Registering for debate politics is necessary before posting. Register today to participate - it's free!
  • Welcome to our archives. No new posts are allowed here.

Is Folk Psychology dead and buried?

gunner

DP Veteran
Joined
Dec 20, 2007
Messages
6,548
Reaction score
2,875
Location
uk
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Independent
Or do you feel the threat from eliminative materialism, advancing a neuroscience approach is premature?
 

ashurbanipal

DP Veteran
Joined
Dec 8, 2005
Messages
7,037
Reaction score
2,065
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Private
Well, it's important to be clear about what version of eliminativism is under discussion. My opinion is that the sort of strong eliminativism espoused by the Churchlands or by Dan Dennet is deeply flawed and is not a serious contender. Despite propaganda to the contrary, the influence of strong eliminativism has been waning over the last couple of decades. I can't see myself ever being convinced that it is correct. To make example of one out of many reasons for this latter position: Paul Churchland is fond of repeating the claim that there is a 1:1 correspondence between brain states and mental states. As far as I can determine, however, that claim is simply false, or at least entirely unsupported. He would like there to be such a 1:1 correspondence, but that's quite different from saying that we know with certainty such correspondence exists.
 

gunner

DP Veteran
Joined
Dec 20, 2007
Messages
6,548
Reaction score
2,875
Location
uk
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Independent
Well, it's important to be clear about what version of eliminativism is under discussion. My opinion is that the sort of strong eliminativism espoused by the Churchlands or by Dan Dennet is deeply flawed and is not a serious contender. Despite propaganda to the contrary, the influence of strong eliminativism has been waning over the last couple of decades. I can't see myself ever being convinced that it is correct. To make example of one out of many reasons for this latter position: Paul Churchland is fond of repeating the claim that there is a 1:1 correspondence between brain states and mental states. As far as I can determine, however, that claim is simply false, or at least entirely unsupported. He would like there to be such a 1:1 correspondence, but that's quite different from saying that we know with certainty such correspondence exists.
The Churchlands have to be the most ardent anti, common sense theory, philosophers around. My understanding, they are not inclined to suggests their theory will provide a like-for-like refutation. Hence a intertheoretic reduction will be impossible. From reading Paul Churchlands 'Eliminative Materialism' I get the sense the frustrations are more to do with what Folk Psychology doesn't profess to offer, rather than what it does offer. Churchland is desperate for a neuroscientific theory to trample FP, but as yet, it has not produced the goods.

I thought Dennet was in favour of FP?

Intentional stance - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Paul
 

ashurbanipal

DP Veteran
Joined
Dec 8, 2005
Messages
7,037
Reaction score
2,065
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Private
gunner said:
The Churchlands have to be the most ardent anti, common sense theory, philosophers around.
I agree. Paul Churchland, especially, makes no sense to me. I mean, I understand what he writes when I read it, but most of his claims seem out-and-out false to me.

gunner said:
My understanding, they are not inclined to suggests their theory will provide a like-for-like refutation.
I think it depends on what you mean, here. Paul Churchland does think that the correct neuro-biological model will do everything that Folk Psychology is supposed (by whom? not sure) to do. That is to say, if I make a claim like "I'm feeling depressed today," then the proper neuro-biological model will be able to replace that locution with something about my biological state, almost certainly with my brain-state as its central feature. The replacement will denote everything I mean to say when I claim "I'm feeling depressed today" without any extra non-existent ontological referents. Rather than say "I'm feeling depressed today," I should better say something like "My dopamine receptors are not working in x,y,z manner today." And so for all such claims.

Or, such is my understanding of what he means. But along with this territory will turn out to be a bunch of FP terms that have no referent, and hence no meaningful content. In a sense, he's applying a kind of Ayersian epistemological attitude without the insistence on a proper VP. The term "depressed feelings" denotes a biological state, says Churchland, and any further denotation or connotation is meaningless--a product of a benighted understanding of the human mind which we are moving past.

So, this:

gunner said:
Hence a intertheoretic reduction will be impossible.
Is largely correct, but only for the same reason that astrology doesn't "reduce" to astronomy--the claims of astrology are false, and therefore simply to be discarded. Similarly, I think he would say that if you think you have an actual feeling of depression, you're simply mistaken, in the same way astrologers were mistaken about their claims. All you have are malfunctioning dopamine receptors (or something like that).

I think it's fair to say that by this point in his argument, my jaw is on the floor. I just don't agree at all. I also think it's fair to say that while it seemed to be catching on for a while, strong eliminativism is declining in popularity. Or such is my read; I don't have any firm statistics or anything. There does seem to be an increasing tendency among philosophers to question materialism in general, which was nearly unheard of just a couple of decades ago.

gunner said:
From reading Paul Churchlands 'Eliminative Materialism' I get the sense the frustrations are more to do with what Folk Psychology doesn't profess to offer, rather than what it does offer. Churchland is desperate for a neuroscientific theory to trample FP, but as yet, it has not produced the goods.
I don't think it can.

gunner said:
I thought Dennet was in favour of FP?
The eliminativism that seems to most concern Dennet, at least so far as I have read his stuff, is elimination of qualia, so Folk Psychology, just as such, is not a primary target.

I'm afraid I don't know how he'd react to the idea that an Intentional Stance is a Folk Psychological concept. I think ultimately, he's after roughly what the Churchlands are after--a comprehensive reduction of all mental states to biological states, such that either no residue is left, or there's no reason to keep any residue. The intention that an organism can have intent should, for Dennet, reduce to talk of neurons firing and whatnot. But Dennet does seem to allow for keeping things like volitions, feelings, perceptions, and so on in the language as useful means of abstraction, whereas Churchland seems to want to change the way we talk. Dennets ideas have changed over time, and I have to admit I haven't read any of his recent stuff, so I may well be blowing smoke at this point.
 
Top Bottom