On the Proper Treatment of the Churchlands


Erkenntnis, vol.86, no.4, pp.905-918, 2021 (AHCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 86 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s10670-019-00137-y
  • Journal Name: Erkenntnis
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Scopus, IBZ Online, Periodicals Index Online, Linguistics & Language Behavior Abstracts, Philosopher's Index, zbMATH
  • Page Numbers: pp.905-918
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


To a significant extent, mainstream Western philosophy is not empirically minded. The neurophilosophy of the Churchlands seems to exhibit the greatest divergence from this orientation by far. Extending and neuralizing Quine's naturalism, the Churchlands have been known to challenge most assumptions and principles of contemporary mainstream analytic and even existing naturalistic philosophies. Even the philosophers who identify themselves as full-blown naturalists have an inexplicably negative attitude toward the Churchlands. For many philosophers of the mind, the Churchlands' problem is not that they are philosophically wrong, but that they have no philosophical approach that could be wrong. They are nonphilosophers working at philosophy departments. Proper philosophy is not what they do or think they are doing. In this article, I argue to the contrary. The Churchlands would seem surprisingly moderate, and neither trivial nor near-trivial, when closely scrutinized.