Reductionism and the mind–body problem
This chapter provides an in-depth illustration of the way in which reductionism applies to a fundamental issue in psychology. Explained here are the various positions that psychologists and philosophers hold concerning the possible relationships which might exist between mind and body. Some reasons as to why this problem still persists are suggested. The main arguments for and against a reductionist view of the mind are presented. In this context, of course, reductionism implies that all thoughts, sensations, ideas, feelings, decisions and emotions will ultimately be explained in terms of physical processes. That is to say that all of psychology can, at least in principle, be reduced to biology and physics. It will be suggested that what we call the mind is merely a vaguely deﬁned word in our vocabulary, and it remains this way for three main reasons:
(a) The idea of ‘mind’ remains simply because of the misleading manner in which we talk about things.