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Paul Churchland (born 1942) is a philosopher working at the University of California, San Diego. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh, under the direction of Wilfrid Sellars. He is the husband of philosopher Patricia Churchland and particularly noted for his work in philosophy of mind and neurophilosophy.
He 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, and 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, a future neuroscience, Churchland argues, is likely to have no need for "beliefs" or "feelings" to explain the brain, instead dealing in objective phenomena such as neurons and their interaction. (Churchland points out that the history of science has seen many concepts so discarded: phlogiston, caloric, the luminiferous ether, and vital forces.)
- 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.
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