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Encyclopedia > Paul Churchland
Western Philosophy
21st-century philosophy
Paul Churchland
Birth October 21, 1942 (age 66)
School/tradition Analytic Philosophy
Main interests Neurophilosophy
Philosophy of science
Philosophy of mind
Artificial intelligence
Neurobiology ยท Perception

Paul Churchland is a philosopher noted for his studies in neurophilosophy and the philosophy of mind. He is currently a tenured professor at the University of California, San Diego, where he holds the Valtz Chair of Philosophy. Churchland holds a joint appointment with the Cognitive Science Faculty and the Institute for Neural Computation. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh in 1969 under the direction of Wilfrid Sellars. Churchland is the husband of philosopher Patricia Churchland, and the father of two children. Image File history File links Question_book-3. ... Western philosophy is a modern claim that there is a line of related philosophical thinking, beginning in ancient Greece (Greek philosophy) and the ancient Near East (the Abrahamic religions), that continues to this day. ... Living philosophers and academics of philosophy (and others important in the history of philosophy), listed alphabetically: (For philosophers who have recently passed away, see the companion list: List of philosophers born in the twentieth century. ... Analytic philosophy (sometimes, analytical philosophy) is a generic term for a style of philosophy that came to dominate English-speaking countries in the 20th century. ... Neurophilosophy is the interdisciplinary study of neuroscience and philosophy. ... Philosophy of science is the study of assumptions, foundations, and implications of science, especially in the natural sciences and social sciences. ... A phrenological mapping of the brain. ... AI redirects here. ... Neurobiology is the study of cells of the nervous system and the organization of these cells into functional circuits that process information and mediate behavior. ... In psychology and the cognitive sciences, perception is the process of acquiring, interpreting, selecting, and organizing sensory information. ... Theory of knowledge redirects here: for other uses, see theory of knowledge (disambiguation) According to Plato, knowledge is a subset of that which is both true and believed Epistemology or theory of knowledge is the branch of philosophy that studies the nature, methods, limitations, and validity of knowledge and belief. ... Neurophilosophy is the interdisciplinary study of neuroscience and philosophy. ... A phrenological mapping of the brain. ... The University of California, San Diego (popularly known as UCSD, or sometimes UC San Diego) is a highly selective, research-oriented[1] public university located in La Jolla, a seaside resort community of San Diego, California. ... Wilfrid Stalker Sellars (May 20, 1912 - July 2, 1989) was an American philosopher. ... Patricia Smith Churchland (born July 16, 1943 in Oliver, British Columbia, Canada) is a Canadian-American philosopher working at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) since 1984. ...


Professional Career

Churchland began his professional career as an instructor at the University of Pittsburgh in 1969; he also lectured at the University of Toronto from 1967-69. In 1969, Churchland took a position at the University of Manitoba, where he would teach for twenty years: as an assistant professor (69 - 74) and associate professor (74 - 79), and then as a full professor from 1979 - 1984. Professor Churchland joined the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University in 1982, staying as a member until 1983. The University of Pittsburgh, commonly referred to as Pitt, is a state-related, doctoral/research university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. ... The University of Manitoba is the largest university of the province of Manitoba, most comprehensive and only research-intensive post-secondary educational institution. ... Fuld Hall The Institute for Advanced Study, located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States, is one of the world’s leading centers for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry. ...

Philosophical Views

Along with his wife, Churchland is a major proponent of eliminative materialism, which claims that everyday mental concepts such as beliefs, feelings and desires are theoretical constructs without coherent definition; hence we should not expect such concepts to be a necessary part of a scientific understanding of the brain. Just as a modern understanding of science has no need for concepts such as luck or witchcraft to explain the world, Churchland argues that a future neuroscience is likely to have no need for "beliefs" or "feelings" to explain the brain. Instead, the use of objective phenomena such as neurons and their interaction should suffice. He points out that the history of science has seen many previous concepts discarded, such as phlogiston, caloric, the luminiferous ether, and vital forces. Eliminativists argue that our modern belief in the existence of mental phenomena is analogous to our ancient belief in obsolete theories such as the geocentric model of the universe. ... Drawing of the cells in the chicken cerebellum by S. Ramón y Cajal Neuroscience is a field that is devoted to the scientific study of the nervous system. ... This article is about cells in the nervous system. ... The phlogiston theory is a now discredited 17th century hypothesis regarding combustion. ... The caloric theory is an obsolete scientific theory that heat consists of a fluid called caloric that flows from hotter to colder bodies. ... The luminiferous aether: it was hypothesised that the Earth moves through a medium of aether that carries light In the late 19th century the luminiferous aether (light-bearing aether), or ether, was a substance postulated to be the medium for the propagation of light. ... Vitalism is the doctrine that vital forces are active in living organisms, so that life cannot be explained solely by mechanism. ...

Published books

  • Neurophilosophy at Work, Cambridge University Press, 2007
  • On the Contrary, MIT Press, 1998 (with Patricia Smith Churchland)
  • The Engine of Reason, The Seat of the Soul: A Philosophical Journey into the Brain, MIT Press, 1995.
  • A Neurocomputational Perspective: The Nature of Mind and the Structure of Science, MIT Press, 1989.
  • Images of Science: Scientific Realism versus Constructive Empiricism, University of Chicago Press, 1985.
  • Matter and Consciousness, MIT Press, 1984.
  • Scientific Realism and the Plasticity of Mind, Cambridge University Press, 1979.

External links

  • Paul Churchland's homepage

  Results from FactBites:
Beyond Eliminative materialism (6904 words)
Even though one of Churchland's greatest contributions to philosophy of mind was demonstrating that the issues in philosophy of mind were a subspecies of scientific reduction, still philosophers of psychology have usually defended or critiqued folk psychology without attempting to carefully analyze Churchland's theory of reduction.
Churchland, however, tempered this skepticism with a variety of evocative metaphors that for our purposes boil down to one point: the line between a true theory and a false one is not as sharp as is commonly supposed.
Churchland has always been scrupulous in reminding us that even his beloved neural computational theories are largely based on models that are in many ways biologically implausible, and that the similarities between natural and artificial networks are bridged largely by guesswork.
  More results at FactBites »



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