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Free «Eliminative Materialism» Essay Sample

When we make a decision to do something, everything generates from our thinking process. As a result, there is no such a thing like mental or common-sense state, but it actually is a brain process. The MIT encyclopedia of the cognitive sciences claimed that “eliminative materialism is the claim that one or another kind of mental state invoked in common sense psychology does not really exist” (265). This theory of eliminative materialism suggests the most widely discussed version takes target of intentional states of commonsense psychology, states like beliefs, thoughts and desires (Wilson and Keil 265). Some scholars claim that these common sense mental states do not exist.

Eliminative materialism according to Bogd is the thesis that supports the fact our common sense conception of psychological phenomena constitutes a radically false theory (123). Eliminative materialism indicates that the common sense theory is so fundamentally defective that both the principles and the ontology of that theory will eventually be displaced, rather than smoothly reduced by completed neuroscience (Bogd 123). Mind and common sense: philosophical essays on commonsense psychology continue to say that “since eliminative materialism denies the existence of beliefs and desires, it thereby precludes assertions and all other actions as well as evidence for or against anything” (123).



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According to Johnston the thinking process is an active process whereby someone or individuals are not just taking information but also simultaneously sorting through it (178). In order to prove that the aspect of common sense is not involved when individuals make decisions, Johnston also noted that the transformation of basic input into news involves a number of complicated tasks which include, judging, problem solving, planning, reasoning, imaging and creativity (178).

In addition, Johnston continues to say that thinking is practical (178). This is because the thinking process is always some form of problem solving and not common sense. Everything we think about during decision making is directed towards making things clearer, better, or different. Brook and Stainton on the other hand said that the theory materialism deny that the mind exists (95). However they continue to say that these views are initially less plausible than views that hold that minds exist. Knowledge and Mind: A Philosophical Introduction said that “eliminative materialists like behaviorists urge that there is nothing remotely likes the mind in the traditional sense” (95).

Brook and Stainton say that for eliminative materialists, the idea that people have minds is a theory (96). The view that we have minds is the view that we have beliefs, desires, emotions, values and other states and events like them. Knowledge and Mind: A Philosophical Introduction argued that “we need to understand ourselves at depth and that we needed to replace the theory that we have something called mind with theories about what unquestionably does exist that is the brain and its environment” (96). This therefore is in line with supporting the theory that when we make a decision it goes through the thinking processes and that it does not support the essence that decision making is associated with common sense.

The approach of brain should be looked at the language of the complex patterns of hookups among neurons and not the traditional language of intentionality (Brook and Stainton 98). As a result eliminative materialism has become neurophilosophy. Brook and Stainton indicated that the brain and the mind are just two distinct things and therefore minds and brains are parallel. Knowledge and Mind: A Philosophical Introduction continues to say that “minds are more than wet-ware of the brain and that they consist of some certain functions” (98). This is why minds cannot be split into parts while the brain can.

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Another proof that decision making is generated from the thinking process is because sometimes thought do not match actions. According to The complete idiot's guide to psychology an example is that “someone might be thinking about strangling his or her boss while at the same time he or she is smiling and nodding in response to her inane comments” (179). However Johnston argues that observing what a person is doing and the situation in which it occurs can help us figure out the thoughts, feelings, and motivations guiding them.

As a result we can as well argue that their decision is influenced by their thinking process at that moment and not common sense. One of the most important aspects of eliminative materialism is that its studies had useful contributions on the fact that reaction time is a useful measure of the complexity of thinking required for any given task. As a result The complete idiot's guide to psychology indicated that “the longer it takes to make a particular decision the more complex its thinking and solution is likely to be” (179). This also supports the theory that decision making is based on ones thinking process and is also influenced by the environment.

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On the other hand, if we argue that decision making is influenced by common sense and several scholars have supported his theory. Rodgers in his studies maintains that our everyday activities in life are controlled by our state of mind (35). He continues to say that this is what directs us to do good or bad activities in our inner essence. Process Thinking: Six Pathways to Successful Decision Making also researched that “our mental states are influenced and shaped by our experiences, education and training” (35). By combining the spiritual condition and state of mind they help us to shape how we frame a given situation.

When we frame about decision making in our minds it means that we influence the state of our minds of a decision choice. Our perceptual frames provide us with the ability to classify and categorizer previous events stored in our memories. Process Thinking: Six Pathways to Successful Decision Making therefore established “that these events help us mold the way we make decision” (36). It also goes contrary to the eliminative materialism which supports the fact that decision making is influenced by our thinking process. Events are formed from our earliest childhood recollections of our interactions with the environment (Rodgers 36). The environment in this context covers family endeavors, economic status, religious practices and social relation outside our home. Rodgers continues to say that we “categorize and classify previous episodic events into memory layers to serve as a backdrop to be retrieved for any decision- making activities (36).

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Unlike in the eliminative materialism theory which supports the thinking process influences decision making, Rodgers supports that common sense influences decision making. Decision frame is an individual’s stored knowledge that is used to solve a problem. This definition according to Process Thinking: Six Pathways to Successful Decision Makings “derives from theories of knowledge in cognitive science and artificial intelligence” (38). In human beings knowledge stored in memory is divided into partitions and each partition is keyed to an environmental domain.

Rodgers established that the meaning of a domain is specified by the knowledge in its particular partition (38). Memory on the other hand includes representations of both specific experiences with various tasks or events and general knowledge. Therefore individuals use prominent indicators that are present in a given situation to help them in decision making. This as noted by Process Thinking: Six Pathways to Successful Decision Makings allows an “individual to probe his or her memory in an attempt to locate an appropriate knowledge partition for that situation” (38). It is expected that this in turn will help the individual in decision making.

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The knowledge partition derives from individuals past experiences with such similar situations (Rodgers 39). The goal is usually to access knowledge, to understand the current situation, and to use that understanding to guide behavior in the current situation (Rodgers 39). Rodgers continues to say that it is believed that there are two different kinds of frames which can be created in our minds. Firstly the general frame provides the context for the decision problem and serves to give coherence and structure to the problem (Rodgers 38). The specific frame on the other hand defines the problem itself in terms of the available information.

Mayor in his studies said that man can only think truly if he thinks freely and that he cannot think freely if his thinking is conditioned by bodily process (340). Mayor says that if at one point the human mind was not affected by any material conditions and guided by logical principles, then this means that the human mind would think more logically than it does (340). Reason and Common Sense continues to say that “if we believe that there is a material world of which the mind obtains knowledge through sense perception, we must surely hold that it is just those beliefs which are conditioned by physical process are true” (341).

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Contrary to the above belief Mayor continues to say that if we hold to the common-sense belief about a material world and about the relation of mind and body then we can say that our thinking as a whole is conditioned by the brain (341). As a result if we are not to be entirely skeptical we must suppose that our thinking is on the whole likely to be more right than wrong. In addition, Mayor continues to say that the belief that our decision making is influenced by our thinking process should not be conditioned by our physical processes (341). It should therefore not hold out the hope of getting at all the truth we could wish to have.

In conclusion, Wilson and Keil claim that according to the common sense psychology a belief is a contentful state that can be casually involved in some cognitive episodes while it is casually inert in others (265). This implies that eliminative materialism has challenged common sense psychology which underlies our everyday discourse about mental states and processes together with perceptions that we hold. In common sense theory terms like beliefs, thought, and desire are viewed as theoretical terms. The MIT encyclopedia of the cognitive sciences continue to say that the commonsense psychology is committed to a kind of conceptual modularity hence decision making based on common sense requires that there is a single inner state which is active whenever a cognitive episode involving a given concept occurs and which is associated with the given concept (265).

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Therefore, decision making can widely be influenced by the thinking process and not the common. This is because commonsense psychology takes beliefs, desires and other intentional states to have semantic properties, truth or satisfaction conditions (Wilson and Keil 265). Another argument is that commonsense psychological explanations seem to attribute casual powers to intentional states that they have in virtue of their semantic content. It is therefore important to conceptualize that we cannot rely on semantic content in decision making because the content is wide and holistic to make our decision.


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