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Patricia Smith Churchland (born July 16, 1943) is a Canadian-American philosopher working at the University of California, San Diego since 1984. She is currently chair of the UCSD Philosophy Department, an adjunct professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and an associate of the Computational Neuroscience Laboratory (Sejnowski Lab) at the Salk Institute. She won a MacArthur prize in 1991. Educated at the University of British Columbia, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Oxford (B.Phil.). She taught philosophy at the University of Manitoba from 1969-1984. She is the wife of philosopher Paul Churchland and particularly noted for her work in philosophy of mind and neurophilosophy.
She is associated with a school of thought called eliminativism or eliminative materialism, which argues that folk psychology concepts such as belief, free will, and consciousness will likely need to be revised as science understands more about the nature of brain function. She is also called a naturalist, because she thinks a priori methods alone cannot discover the nature of the mind. In this respect, she differs from philosophers who restrict themselves to conceptual analyses in hopes of saying something useful about the nature of the mind. Her recent work focuses also on neuroethics, and attempts to understand choice, responsibility and the basis of moral norms in terms of brain function, brain evolution, and brain-culture interactions.
- Neurophilosophy: Toward a Unified Science of the Mind-Brain. (1986) Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.
- The Computational Brain. (1992) Patricia S. Churchland and T. J. Sejnowski. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.
- Neurophilosophy and Alzheimer's Disease. (1992) Edited by Y. Christen and Patricia S. Churchland. Berlin: Spinger-Verlag.
- The Mind-Brain Continuum (1996). Edited by R. R. Llinas and Patricia S. Churchland. The MIT Press.
- On the Contrary: Critical Essays 1987-1997. (1998). Paul M. Churchland and Patricia S. Churchland. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.
- Brain-Wise: Studies in Neurophilosophy. (2002) Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press).
- Patricia S. Churchland's Homepage
- Patricia Churchland entry from the Dictionary of the Philosophy of Mind
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