The Nature and Status of Folk Psychology

Last Updated: 03 Mar 2020
Pages: 7 Views: 119

The nature and status of Folk Psychology (UP) In philosophy circles is controversial. In this essay I shall begin by briefly defining what folk psychology Is. Followed by an outline on eliminative where some of the controversy lies. My main focus will be on Paul Churchyard's views and his arguments against UP, as this will enable me to facilitate an assessment of his criticisms.

Subsequent to that I will search for my own view in the defense of UP in the light of its proponents such as Horror and Woodward or Denned. By doing this I will then be able to gauge the plausibility of Churchyard's criticisms of UP. Folk psychology (UP) is the name given by lamentableness to the common sense understanding of the mind (Mind and Bodies pep). A common sense view which accepts that we all have desires and emotions such as fear, lust, beliefs, desire, pain, pleasure ,love, hate, joy attraction and so forth.

These deferent states of being are utilized in what are called propositional attitudes which show intent. An example of a propositional attitude is Brenda 'believes' she can win the lottery, Hereford 'believes' is the Intentionality in this propositional attitude. The view of UP encapsulated by Paul Churchyard Is that It "embodies our baseline understanding of the cognitive, affective, and purposive nature of person. Considered as a whole, it constitutes our conception of what a person is". (Churchyard in Guatemalan, 1994, p. 08) Before we go on to examine Churchyards criticism of UP, I think it would be useful to give a brief overview of the eliminations viewpoint regarding UP. Eliminative materialism (also called eliminative) Is a materialist position in the hilltop's of mind. Its primary claim is that people's common-sense understanding of the mind (or folk psychology) Is false and that certain classes of mental states that most people believe in do not exist (Wilkinson, Mind and Bodies pep) Paul M. Churchyard (b. 942) a Canadian-born philosopher is a leading proponent of eliminative; he is a long time critic of UP and the foremost advocate of neuroscience. Churchyards criticism dovetails with the eliminations claim that UP is a false theory "Eliminative materialism is the thesis that our common-sense inception of psychological phenomena constitutes" (eliminative Materialism and the Propositional Attitudes' Paul M Churchyard Reading 6, Wilkinson, Mind and Bodies p 194). He claims that UP is not only a radically false theory but also an empirical theory by pointing out Its similarities with other theories.

Order custom essay The Nature and Status of Folk Psychology with free plagiarism report

feat icon 450+ experts on 30 subjects feat icon Starting from 3 hours delivery
Get Essay Help

He does this by stating how our "familiar mentalist vocabulary' is to be understood like other semantic terms. In that the terms used need or in fact do operate by a network of formulate laws like any other theory. An example of how Churchyard employs UP as theory Is found In his hypothesis argument on understanding the minds of others. He says that we can use UP as a hypothetical framework which Works in the main and is reasonable' to employ (Wilkinson, Mind and Bodies pep).

Although Churchyard accepts our everyday use of UP as a reasonable thing to do he still argues forcefully his claim, that UP is a false theory and does this with a three pronged attack: - (a) its ontology is an illusion, (b) It is a stagnant theory and incapable of advance (c) It Is not reducible to neuroscience. (a) Churchyard begins his attack on UP by declaring that It ouch as mental illness; imagination; intelligence differences; sleep issues; motor co- ordination; perceptual illusions and memory, that he claims UP has nothing to say.

He includes learning in this critique and with a further assault on UP propositional attitudes, questions where they are stored and how they are learnt to be employed, both vital to UP views on the conception of the mental. However Churchyard does not go as far as to say UP is not true but rather illusionary and that "UP is at best a highly superficial theory' (Ibid IPPP up 16) (b) Churchyard argues on historical grounds that The UP story is one of retreat infertility and decadence" (Ibid IPPP IPPP).

He gives the example of how early man used UP to relate to their environment in a naive fashion believing that the wind was capable of anger, the moon Jealousy as examples of early intentional attitudes. Therefore backing up his argument that UP along with these historical intentional attitudes has become stagnant and sterile and had to give ground in the face of better theories from the area of empirical science (Wilkinson Mind and Bodies pep). To add further weight to this criticism Churchyard uses Mire

Legatos' terms that "UP is a stagnant or degenerating research program, and has been for millennia" (Churchyard, Reading 6, Wilkinson, Mind and Bodies, IPPP, up 18). (c) Theoretical reductionism, the process by which one theory is absorbed into another is what Churchyard uses as the main thrust of his argument that UP is probably false as it is not reducible to neuroscience. How UP promises theoretical integration by Churchyard's opinion is very poor he bashes FPS lack of progress and coherence in relation to natural history and physical sciences.

Where he believes there growth in rinsing understanding of man is out performing UP in many respects, pointing to neuroscience breakthroughs in human sensory input and neural activity. Furthermore according to Churchyard, UP is akin to a misfit standing alone looking incapable of synthesis as FPS "stagnation and explanatory impotence promise little faith" (Ibid IPPP IPPP). Moreover UP will not likely be reflected by neuroscience as it will seem to be antiquated and here he draws a parallel between UP and 'Aristotelian cosmology.

His final and most damming attack to back up his arguments on FPS laziness is that it "suffers explanatory failures on an epic scale" (Ibid, IPPP, IPPP). I will now go over the main points of Churchyards arguments and challenge their validity and soundness in the light of his main critics and defenders of UP. Churchyards first criticism that there are areas of the mind such as motor co- ordination, sleep and memory which he says are not dealt sufficiently by UP. And implying that its ontology may be false is objected to by a riposte from two American philosophers Horror and Woodward in defense of UP.

Firstly on the grounds that to impose demands on any psychological theory accounting for considerable know how when theoretical knowledge is relatively primitive (A fair point given that psychology as a medical discipline has only been practiced about the last one hundred years). Secondly, as Churchyard argues if UP is to be a successful theory the fact it must offer explanations for all the phenomena it lists in Horror and Woodward opinion this argument needs to be treated with skepticism and caution (Horror and Woodward, 1985, up. 00). Finally as Churchyard's narrowing of FPS definition does not cover retain areas of the mind it is also dismissed, with good argument I think, because cognitive psychology has developed detailed theories on intentional psychologies (UP) Churchyards empirical argument fails to provide a convincing critique on the grounds that the theories outlined are explainable in terms of UP. Churchyards second assault on UP that it is a stagnant theory employing the same mentalist framework as the ancient Greeks.

Horror and Woodward have a counter argument they rebut his view by citing the progression in 18th and 20th century literature such as Jane Austin and John Birth. Furthermore bringing their point to bear with great assurance when they point to the modern day skill in appealing to our "unconscious beliefs and motivations", in my view borne out when viewing our modern day advertising. Therefore a rebuttal to Churchyards assertion that UP is a stagnant theory, incapable of advance is found to be false (Wilkinson, Mind and Bodies pep).

In reply to Churchyards controversial damning conclusion on FPS falseness due to its inability to reduction and that it "suffers explanatory failures on an epic scale" (Reading 6 IPPP,IPPP), American philosopher Daniel Detente (1942) points out hat eliminations fails to recognize UP as a 'normative' theory (not Just a descriptive one). In that it also encapsulates an 'ideal' or recommendation on how to proceed as a rational being with a value structure which incorporates social practices, such as greeting, reassuring, that is relevant to everyday existence.

A pertinent point made by Denned in that it is not Just crucial not only to our own reason as human beings but that it enables us to act and think rationally and facilitates good social relations. This as can be deduced makes a mockery of Churchyards FPS falseness claims. These thoughts are mirrored by Horror and Woodward that UP although probably not reducible to neuroscience "Churchyard is Just mistaken to assume that UP must be reducible to neuroscience in order to be compatible with it" (Horror and Woodward, 1985, PEP).

The assessment and examination of eliminations views on Folk Psychology with particular regard to Churchyards criticisms and UP defenders crystallites for me the essence of the UP debate, theory or practice? , reality or illusion? , past or future? UP for me is a skill nurtured by the past and in my opinion elegantly defended by Horror and Woodward arguments not only for its continual relevance but its reliance upon contemporary culture implying a growth in its lexicon.

Finally Dent's utter dismissal of the eliminations views that UP left a great deal unexplained. And it is by Dent's assertion that we need UP to give us a language of reason for both our personal and social behaviors, a real boon to Folk psychology. After defining and outlining both UP and eliminative, we can see some plausible solutions to the controversy with regards to the claims that UP is a false theory, Rutherford that it is illusory, stagnant and non reducible. In my opinion Churchyard's assertion that UP is a false theory is invalid.

As having seen the arguments for criticizing UP I have come to the view that Churchyard's criticisms of UP can easily be argued against, not because of his limitations of his understanding but because of his not taking into account 'normative' values pointed out by Denned. But also invalid on the grounds that at least two to three thousand years in the life of mankind would be in my view absurdly dismissed. And finally if we were all given a behaving like robots making poetry and art nonsense!

Cite this Page

The Nature and Status of Folk Psychology. (2017, Nov 10). Retrieved from

Don't let plagiarism ruin your grade

Run a free check or have your essay done for you

plagiarism ruin image

We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Save time and let our verified experts help you.

Hire writer