chapter  5
11 Pages

Arguments Against Eliminative Materialism

ByBarbara Hannan

This chapter focuses on considerations against eliminative materialism (EM). These considerations against eliminativism consist of two closely related arguments: the argument that commonsense psychology could not conceivably prove false and the argument that EM is self-defeating or self-refuting. Some philosophers have suggested that eliminable concepts always contain some aspect that turns out, on empirical grounds, not to be exemplified by anything in the physical world. Eliminativists like to compare propositional attitudes to demons. Both, they suggest, have served to explain aspects of human behavior. Paul Churchland lampoons the argument that eliminativism is self-defeating by comparing it to a fictional argument supposedly advanced by a vitalist against an anti-vitalist. Anyone who claims that EM is true lapses into pragmatic incoherence, because the notions of truth and falsity are part and parcel of commonsense psychology, the very conceptual scheme EM seeks to overthrow.