Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 1
  • Print publication year: 2005
  • Online publication date: June 2012

6 - Reduction as Cognitive Strategy

Summary

The name ‘Paul Churchland’ is synonymous in many minds with eliminative materialism, the view that a materialist theory of mind will triumph, not by showing how the mental ascriptions of common sense or folk psychology reduce to neurophysiological conditions, but simply by eliminating the former as a bad theory and substituting its own, different concepts, principles, and data in its place. This looks nothing like reduction, which precisely saves the succeeded within the successor. Yet Churchland understood it as a process akin to reduction. To understand why, his treatment of reduction must be set within his larger vision of cognition and cognitive strategy. In his enthusiasm for a science-led revolution in our reconception of our world, ourselves included, Churchland is pursuing an agenda inspired by early-Feyerabend and his (Churchland's) contribution to reduction theory lies primarily in what he consequently taught us about its place among our epistemological strategies rather than any specific internal technical detail.

Churchland is an unrestrained radical scientific naturalist (see note), pushing hard the consequences of understanding this world as a single whole, avoiding the imposition by intellectual fiat of both divisions and unities (e.g, imposing a priori either a mind/body dualism or monism) and accepting only what can be scientifically grounded. That Churchland was an enthusiastic and stylish presenter of it cannot detract from the good intellectual sense with which he explored it and argued its merits.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO
References
Armstrong, D. M. (1968). A Materialist Theory of Mind. New York, Humanities Press
Ager, T. A. and Aronson, J. L. (1974). “Are bridge laws really necessary.” NoÛs 8: 119–34
Batterman, R. W. (2002). The Devil in the Details: Asymptotic Reasoning in Explanation, Reduction and Emergence, Boston, MIT Press
Beckermann, A. (1992). “Supervenience, emergence and reduction.” In Beckermann, A. (ed.), Emergence or Reduction?Berlin, De Gruyter
Bickhard, M. H. (1993). “Representational Content in Humans and Machines.” Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Artificial Intelligence 5: 285–333
Bickle, J. (1998). Psychoneural reduction: The New Wave. Boston, MIT/Bradford
Bickle, J. (2003). Philosophy and Neuroscience: A Ruthlessly Reductive Account. Boston, Kluwer
Brown, H. I. (1979). Perception, theory and commitment: the new philosophy of science. Chicago, University of Chicago Press
Brown, H. I. (1988). Rationality. London, Routledge
Causey, R. L. (1977). Unity of Science. Dordrecht, Reidel
Christensen, W. D. and Hooker, C. A. (1998). ‘The dynamics of reason, critical symposium on Paul Churchland: The Engine of Reason, the Seat of the Soul.’ Philosophy and Phenomenological Research ⅬVIII (4): 871–8
Christensen, W. D. and Hooker, C. A. (1999). “An interactivist-constructivist approach to intelligence: self-directed anticipative learning.” Philosophical Psychology 13: 5–45
Christensen, W. D. and C. A. Hooker (2000). “Organised interactive construction: the nature of autonomy and the emergence of intelligence.” In Etxeberria, A., Moreno, A., and Umerez, J. (eds.), Communication & Cognition 17, Special Edition: The Contribution of Artificial Life and the Sciences of Complexity to the Understanding of Autonomous Systems, 133–58
Christensen, W. D. and Hooker, C. A. (2001). “Self-directed agents.” In MacIntosh, J. S. (ed.) Naturalism, Evolution and Intentionality, Ottawa: Canadian Journal of Philosophy 27: 19–52
Churchland, P. M. (1975). “Two grades of evidential bias.” Philosophy of Science 42: 250–9
Churchland, P. M. (1979). Scientific realism and the plasticity of mind. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press
Churchland, P. M. (1985a). “Conceptual progress and word/world relations: in search of the essence of natural kinds.” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 15: 1–18. Reprinted in Churchland 1989
Churchland, P. M. (1985b). “Reduction, qualia, and the direct introspection of brain states.” Journal of Philosophy 82: 1–22. Reprinted in Churchland 1989
Churchland, P. M. (1989). A neurocomputational perspective. Cambridge, MA, Bradford/MIT Press
Churchland, P. M. (1995). The engine of reason, the seat of the soul: A philosophical journey into the brain. Cambridge, MA, Bradford/MIT Press
Churchland, P. M. and Hooker, C. A. (eds.) (1985). Images of Science: Essays on Realism and Empiricism, Chicago, University of Chicago Press
Collier, J. D. and Hooker, C. A. (1999). “Complexly Organised Dynamical Systems.” Open Systems & Information Dynamics 36: 1–62
Farrell, R. (2003). Feyerabend and Scientific Values: Tightrope–Walking Rationality. Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science. Boston: Kluwer, 235
Feyerabend, P. K. (1961). “Knowledge without foundations.” Oberlin College (mimeographed)
Feyerabend, P. K. (1962). “Explanation, reduction and empiricism.” In Feigl, H. and Maxwell, G. (eds.) Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science. III: Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press
Feyerabend, P. K. (1970). “Against method.” In Radner, M. and Winokur, S. (eds.), Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science, IV: Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press
Feyerabend, P. K. (1987). Farewell to reason. London, Verso
Hooker, C. A. (1974). “Systematic realism.” Synthese 26: 409–97, reprinted in Hooker 1987
Hooker, C. A. (1975). “The philosophical ramifications of the information-processing approach to the brain-mind.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 36: 1–15
Hooker, C. A. (1979). “Critical notice of R. Yoshida, Reduction in the physical sciences.” Dialogue XVIII: 81–99
Hooker, C. A. (1981). “Towards a general theory of reduction.” Dialogue XX (Part I, Historical framework, pp. 38–59, Part II, Identity and reduction, pp. 201–36, Part III, Cross-categorial reduction, pp. 496–529)
Hooker, C. A. (1987). A realistic theory of science. Albany, State University of New York Press
Hooker, C. A. (1991). “Between formalism and anarchism: a reasonable middle way.” In Munevar, G. (ed.) Beyond reason: essays on the philosophy of Paul Feyerabend. Boston, Kluwer
Hooker, C. A. (1995). Reason, regulation and realism, Albany: SUNY Press
Hooker, C. A. (1996). “Toward a Naturalised Cognitive Science.” In Kitchener, R. and Donohue, W. O' (eds.), Psychology and Philosophy. London, Allyn and Bacon
Hooker, C. A. (1997). “Unity of Science.” In Newton-Smith, W. H. (ed.) A Companion to the Philosophy of Science. Oxford, Blackwell
Hooker, C. A. (2004). “Asymptotics, reduction and emergence.” British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55: 435–79
Kim, J. (1998). Mind in a physical world: an essay on the mind-body problem and mental causation. Boston, MIT Press
Kim, J. (1999). “Making sense of emergence.” Philosophical Studies 95: 3–36
Marras, A. (2002). “Kim on reduction.” Erkenntnis 57: 231–57
Moreno, A. and Ruiz-Mirazo, K. (1999). “Metabolism and the problem of its universalisation.” Biosystems 49: 45–61
Nagel, E. (1961). The Structure of Science. New York, Harcourt, Brace and World
Schaffner, K. F. (1967). “Approaches to reduction.” Philosophy of Science 34: 137–47
Schaffner, K. F. (1992). “Philosophy of medicine.” In Salmon, M.. (1992). Introduction to the Philosophy of Science, Englewoods Cliffs, NJ, Prentice-Hall
Sellars, W. (1962). “Philosophy and the scientific image of man.” In Colodny, R. (ed.) Frontiers of Science and Philosophy. Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh Press
Sellars, W. (1965). “The identity approach to the mind body problem.” In Cohen, R. and Wartofsky, M., Boston Studies in the Philosophy of ScienceII, New York, Humanities Press
Sklar, L. (1967). “Types of inter-theoretic reduction.” The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 18: 109–24
Sklar, L. (1993). Physics and Chance. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press
Yoshida, R. (1977). Reduction in the physical sciences. Halifax, N.S. Dalhousie University Press