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Meta-Scientific Eliminativism: A Reconsideration of Chomsky's Review of Skinner's "Verbal Behavior"

John Collins
The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
Vol. 58, No. 4 (Dec., 2007), pp. 625-658
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30115168
Page Count: 34
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Meta-Scientific Eliminativism: A Reconsideration of Chomsky's Review of Skinner's "Verbal Behavior"
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Abstract

The paper considers our ordinary mentalistic discourse in relation to what we should expect from any genuine science of the mind. A meta-scientific eliminativism is commended and distinguished from the more familiar eliminativism of Skinner and the Churchlands. Meta-scientific eliminativism views folk psychology qua folksy as unsuited to offer insight into the structure of cognition, although it might otherwise be indispensable for our social commerce and self-understanding. This position flows from a general thesis that scientific advance is marked by an eschewal of folk understanding. The latter half of the paper argues that, contrary to the received view, Chomsky's review of Skinner offers not just an argument against Skinner's eliminativism, but, more centrally, one in favour of the second eliminativism.

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