Paul M. Churchland Quotes

Paul M. Churchland
  • Paul M. Churchland

  • Date of birth: October 21, 1942
  • Born: in The United States.

  • Description: Paul Churchland is a philosopher noted for his studies in neurophilosophy and the philosophy of mind. He is currently a Professor at the University of California, San Diego, where he holds the Valtz Chair of Philosophy. Churchland holds a joint appointment with the Cognitive Science Faculty and the Institute for Neural Computation. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh in 1969 under the direction of Wilfrid Sellars. Churchland is the husband of philosopher Patricia Churchland, and the father of two children.

    Churchland began his professional career as an instructor at the University of Pittsburgh in 1969; he also lectured at the University of Toronto from 1967-69. In 1969, Churchland took a position at the University of Manitoba, where he would teach for fifteen years: as an assistant professor (69 - 74) and associate professor (74 - 79), and then as a full professor from 1979 - 1984. Professor Churchland joined the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University in 1982, staying as a member until 1983. He joined the faculty at the University of California, San Diego in 1983, serving as Department Chair from 1986 - 1990.

    Churchland has supervised a number of PhD students, including P.D. Magnus (now at the University at Albany) and Philip Brey (now at the University of Twente).

    Along with his wife, Churchland 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; 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, Churchland argues that a future neuroscience is likely to have no need for "beliefs" or "feelings" to explain the mind. Instead, the use of objective phenomena such as neurons and their interaction should suffice. He points out that the history of science has seen many previous concepts discarded, such as phlogiston, caloric, the luminiferous ether, and vital forces.