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  • Print publication year: 2005
  • Online publication date: June 2012

1 - Introduction: Becoming Paul M. Churchland (1942–)

Summary

The goal of this chapter is two-fold. First, I will present an overview of the philosophical vision of Paul M. Churchland (PMC). This will help situate the more detailed, and necessarily narrower, discussions of the other authors in this volume. Second, the more substantive goal here is to show that Paul Churchland's views have not developed in a vacuum. While he has clearly developed his own unique view of the philosophical terrain, he is not without his influences – influences that he in no way attempts to hide. His work is a unique blend of ideas encountered as a nascent philosopher. The philosophers I will be discussing are not always so well known to today's students of philosophy, so there is value in considering how these views of the preceding generation are being passed on within the work of one of today's more influential philosophers of mind and science.

I will begin by sketching Paul Churchland's personal biography. After getting the basic facts on the table, I will turn to the three philosophers whose influence on PMC are my foci: Russell Hanson, Wilfrid Sellars, and Paul Feyerabend. Each of these thinkers made philosophical contributions that are reflected in the work of PMC. Next, I will show how all three of these thinkers contributed to the philosophical position most closely associated with Churchland, namely “Eliminative Materialism.”

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