All posts by Tenia L. Miles

What is Folk Psychology?

Churchland explains eliminative materialism and how it supports the idea that Folk Psychology is just a theory that will be eradicated with proper scientific data. In doing so, he says, “Knowledge of other minds thus has no essential dependence on knowledge of one’s own mind” (Churchland 594). I completely agree with this statement and think it is an excellent point in proving the implausibility of Folk Psychology. Conclusions reached by the beliefs of Folk Psychology can hardly be accepted as veritable. Since Folk Psychology, itself is simply a theory, and the integrity of any inferences made based solely on it, will, by extension, also be questioned.

I am in complete agreement with the idea of Folk Psychology being a theory. It seems to be completely empirical. Is there any way to test its soundness? Without measurable data, there is nothing to support the ideas behind Folk Psychology, which is cause enough to denote that it is just a theory and possibly one that is, ultimately false.

Eliminative materialism supports the fact that the existence of Folk Psychology is not real. My question is why anyone believes anything else. What is it about Folk Psychology that allows it to be so vague and lacking but still be widely accepted as though it were scientific fact? There are people who are really in the fact that Folk Psychology gives us legitimate fundamental explanations of behavior. It seems that underlying opinion about Folk Psychology is that while it may not be perfect or 100% true, it’s good enough.

I believe that the scientific method can be applied to all types of problems and situations, so while I don’t think Folk Psychology is adequate enough to be considered science I think it should be approached and analyzed as such. There basically already exists a hypothesis or some belief about it, so why hasn’t anything been tested to try to make this theory a law? It seems as though the commonly attitude about it is that it is, for some reason, useful and should stay around. The view of Realism is that most of it is true. I don’t think it should be allowed to thrive as a philosophical idea if it’s not accurate. What are we gaining from it, if it’s not all the way true?

If you understand better by listening, this video summarizes Churchland’s argument in about 5 minutes. >>> Eliminating Folk Psychology

Paul Churchland’s Eliminative Materialism and the Propositional Attitudes

What is Knowledge?

The two opening chapters of What is This Thing Called Knowledge? by Duncan Pritchard address the following questions: What is knowledge? and Why should we care about it? These same general questions were asked by Simon Blackburn in his book, Think. In it’s introduction, Blackburn tells us that obtaining the answers to these inquiries is a matter of reflection since we don’t exactly know how to begin determining their conclusions (Blackburn 2). In order to have the type of knowledge in question, propositional knowledge, you are required to believe the appropriate proposition, which, in turn, must be true (Prithard 5). Therefore, we see that knowledge requires truth as well as belief. This leads us to an interesting point. Does believing/thinking something make it true? Pritchard argues that it doesn’t. When someone believes something, they believe it to be true, and it may or may not be. Once it is determined that said proposition is, in fact, true, we must decide if the person actually knew or was subject to a lucky guess. It could be the case that they did actually know it was true, and it was, but Prithard tells us that you cannot gain knowledge completely by chance (Pritchard 6). This means that making a guess at something and coincidentally being right does not mean you have actual knowledge of it. Let’s now look at the second question that was posed. Why should we care about knowledge (and true beliefs)? There are different  approaches to responding to this question. According to Pritchard, we are aided in achieving our goals in life by true beliefs. This is because it is useful, if not necessary, to possess knowledge that was applicable to these goals. Blackburn outlines the high, middle, and low-ground approaches as to why we should care about knowledge. The middle-ground is most likely to be accepted. It proposes that reflection is continuous with practice meaning that the way you do things is a result of how you thought about it which is why it matters. It even affects whether or not you do said thing at all (Blackburn 4). Reflecting on and thinking about the truth of things does not equate to knowledge on the subject. Pritchard contrasts and ranks the differences between true and false beliefs and actual knowledge. True beliefs are better than false ones, but knowledge is even better. Knowledge tends to be more concrete. It becomes ingrained, whereas true beliefs are unstable and subject to change (Pritchard 14). You may believe in something and find it isn’t as reliable as you thought, and lose that belief. On the other hand, if you know something for sure, it would be difficult to change how you think about it. As much sense as this makes, Plato argues the contrary in a way that is also justifiable. In Meno, he supports that if someone has no knowledge of something, but has a correct opinion, they can be equally as useful as someone possessing knowledge. This raises the question of the value of knowledge. Ultimately, knowledge is important because the man who has it will most definitely succeed, whereas the one with simply a right opinion may not (Plato 343-4).


Blackburn, Simon. Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1999. Print.

Plato, and R. S. Bluck. Meno. Cambridge: U, 1961. Print.

Pritchard, Duncan. What Is This Thing Called Knowledge? London: Routledge, 2006. Print.