Paul Churchland

Cognitive Sceintist

American (University of California, San Diego)

Churchland argues that our everyday, commonsense view of psychological phenomena, which conceives of thought in terms of propositional attitudes such as beliefs and desires, is an empirical "folk" theory. He calls this theory "folk psychology" and argues that it is inadequate as an empirical (scientific) theory and therefore ought to be rejected. He concludes from this that the postulated entities of folk psychology, namely propositional attitudes such as beliefs and desires, do not exist.

Churchland argues that the normative function of folk psychology could just as well be played by another theory with different categories for describing the content of our mental lives. He admits that what the theory of cognition that will eventually emerge from neuroscience will look like is a matter of pure speculation, but insists that given the current state of our knowledge it is highly unlikely that the categories of folk psychology will play any part in it.

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