University of Sussex
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The myth of the mental? Motivating the no-mind thesis in philosophy, psychology, psychiatry, and cognitive science

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posted on 2023-06-10, 04:52 authored by Joseph Gough
This thesis draws together a wide range of relevant scientific, medical, and philosophical research and practice, to offer a novel approach to examining the nature of the mind. Methodologically, the thesis uses primarily two key strands of contemporary philosophy, traditional ‘linguistic turn’ analytic philosophy and broadly pragmatist ‘practical turn’ philosophy of science, with a specific focus on bringing these to bear in an interdisciplinary context. This is a fairly widespread methodology in recent philosophy, that aims to synthesise scientific findings, to examine how these might inform or recast debates in philosophy, and to explore how the positions within those philosophical debates might be relevant to the practice of the relevant areas of science and medicine. The thesis centres on a series of five ‘case studies’, each examining a key proposed use for the concepts in science or medicine, in an area where they seem most likely to be used successfully (Chapters 3 to 7). This argument by case studies is contextualized by an examination of the relevant philosophical background, especially topics in analytic philosophy of mind (Chapter 2). By considering these case studies, it is possible to further specify how exactly the concepts are used in science, whether this is helpful, and what the concepts would have to be like to be helpful used in those ways. The thesis argues that the concepts appear to be generally unhelpful, and suggests that the best approach may be to avoid making use of the concepts in favour of replacement concepts better-suited to the relevant contexts. This conclusion is defended against alternatives, drawing primarily on historically- and practice-informed philosophy of science (Chapter 8).


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