Epistemology,  Language,  Philosophy of Language

Against Eliminative Materialism

According to eliminative materialists, the statements ‘I feel pain’ and ‘I believe that the cat is on the mat’ can be reduced to statements about physical mechanisms of the brain. ‘My C-fibres are firing’ or ‘my B-drive is accepting that the cat is on the mat’ will suffice to replace any reference to mental states.

As Eddy Zemach kindly points out, doing so deprives us of any reason to think the reduced statements are true. If one asks, ‘what makes you think your C-fibres are firing,’ what else could the asserter say apart from, ‘well I feel pain’? Same for the B-drive. Hence, one might replace all our mentalistic statements, but we’d never have any reason to believe they are true.

(Eddy Zemach, The Reality of Meaning and the Meaning of ‘Reality’, p.17)

Assistant Professor of Philosophy and History of Ideas at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and The College at Southeastern.