Thursday, May 09, 2013

Lynne Baker's self-refutation argument against eliminative materialism

Here. Materialist philosophers are loth to accept this kind of argument against eliminativism, in my view, because if it proves to be correct, then if it turns out that reconciliations between our mental life and materialism fail, there is no fall-back position, and "retentive" materialists would actually reject materialism in order to believe in science.


Hal said...

Haven't read through the whole article yet. Will say that I do agree with the point that "folk psychology" is not a theory. If that is the case, then it is rather nonsensical that a scientific theory could eliminate it.

I did find it a little strange that in talking about the commonsense view of the mental he included truth conditions. That seems more appropriate of a philosophical theory than our commonsense views of the mental.

Also, his thought experiment seems to be just a rather convoluted example of two people using the same word differently. Afraid he lost me there. What was the point of it?

Zach said...

Why did Edna just go into your room?

She believes that her baby is hiding in the closet, and she wants him to take a bath.

It may not be a scientific theory, but it is pretty clear that we explain behavior in terms of beliefs/wants/desires. So it acts like a theory in many ways, if not every way. As a dualist, I am actually not committed to folk psychology. I actually embrace a view of the mental in which it is largely nonpropositional. So in some sense I am an eliminative dualist. :)

But this gets at another point, there are really two things. Our folk theories, which may or may not posit internal sentences. And then language of thought theories, which clearly do posit internal sentences as the medium of thought. Eliminative materialists (and eliminative dualists) tend to reject the latter, but to be provocative tend to conflate it with the psychology of everyday people.

Zach said...

Note in my comment I was very influenced by this thread. I don't want to be accused of plagiarizing a blog comment thread in another blog comment thread. God forbid. :o That thread is a good example of how blogs can actually teach you something.