Reduction, elimination, and the mental

Philosophy of Science 58 (June):203-20 (1991)
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The antireductionist arguments of many philosophers (e.g., Baker, Fodor and Davidson) are motivated by a worry that successful reduction would eliminate rather than conserve the mental. This worry derives from a misunderstanding of the empiricist account of reduction, which, although it does not underwrite "cognitive suicide", should be rejected for its positivist baggage. Philosophy of psychology needs more detailed attention to issues in natural science which serve as analogies for reduction of the mental. I consider a range of central cases, including water and H 2 O, genes and DNA, and common sense and scientific solidity. The last case is illuminated by Eddington's Two Tables paradox, a resolution which suggests the plasticity of the mental under reduction. If reduction of the mental is like any of these cases, it is neither empiricist nor eliminative.



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Justin Schwartz
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (PhD)

Citations of this work

Functional explanation and metaphysical individualism.Justin Schwartz - 1993 - Philosophy of Science 60 (2):278-301.
Reduction, elimination, and firewalking.Colin Cheyne - 1993 - Philosophy of Science 60 (2):349-357.

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