On the non-elimination of mental states by adopting a ruthless-reductive stance

Proceedings of the Tilburg-Sidney International Conference on Reduction and the Special Sciences (2008)
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Abstract

In several places, John Bickle claims that current neuroscientific practice provides actual cellular/molecular reductions of certain mental states. He gives the case study of ‘memory consolidation switch’ as an example where recent findings suggest that this mental state/process can be reduced to the molecular ‘cAMP, PKA, CREB Pathway’. Taking this example, Bickle ‘waves the eleminativist flag’ by claiming that psychological explanations loose their pertinence (or, as he says, ‘became otiose’) once a cellular/molecular explanation replaces them. On this paper I’ll try to show that, even if a reductive explanation of ‘memory consolidation switch’ is disposable, we cannot eschew reductively its causal/functional integrity, i.e.: the explanatory/causal context that defines the mental concept/process ‘memory consolidation switch’ in the first place.

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João Fonseca
Universidade Nova de Lisboa

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