Deconstructing the Mind
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Deconstructing the Mind

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Over the last two decades, debates over the viability of commonsense psychology have been centre stage in both cognitive science and the philosophy of mind. Eliminativists have argued that advances in cognitive science and neuroscience will ultimately justify a rejection of our "folk" theory of the mind, and of its ontology. In the first half of this book Stich, who was at one time a leading advocate of eliminativism, maintains that even if the sciences develop in the ways that eliminativists foresee, none of the arguments for ontological elimination are tenable. Rather than being resolved by science, he contends, these ontological disputes will be settled by a pragmatic process in which social and political considerations have a major role to play. In later chapters, Stich argues that the widespread worry about "naturalizing" psychological properties is deeply confused, since there is no plausible account of what naturalizing requires on which the failure of the naturalization project would lead to eliminativism. He also offers a detailed analysis of the many different notions of folk psychology to be found in philosophy and psychology, and argues that simulation theory, which purports to be an alternative to folk psychology, is not supported by recent experimental findings.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 232 pages
  • 161.8 x 239.3 x 22.6mm | 532.48g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • line figures
  • 0195100816
  • 9780195100815

Review quote

excellent collection .../ lucid treatment .../ Stephen Mills, University of Ulster at Coleraine, The Philosophical Quarterly, April 1999.show more

Back cover copy

During the past two decades, debates over the viability of commonsense psychology have occupied center-stage in both cognitive science and the philosophy of mind. From early childhood onward, we all predict and explain human behavior by invoking mental states like beliefs and desires, but do these familiar states actually exist? A group of prominent philosophers known as eliminativists argues that they do not, contending that commonsense mental states are fictions, products of a tacit and deeply flawed "folk" theory of mind that gives a radically mistaken account of mental life. Recent advances in cognitive science and neuroscience, eliminativists maintain, underscore the shortcomings of commonsense psychology and make it very likely that a mature science of the mind/brain will reject commonsense mental states in much the same way that modern chemistry and physics reject caloric fluid and phlogiston. In Deconstructing the Mind, distinguished philosopher Stephen Stich, once a leading advocate of eliminativism, offers a bold and compelling reassessment of this view.show more

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13 ratings
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