Patricia Churchland

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Patricia Churchland
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| birth_place = Oliver, British Columbia, Canada| death_place =| death_date =| alma_mater = University of British ColumbiaUniversity of PittsburghUniversity of OxfordAnalytic philosophyDUMMETT DATE=2010 URL= PUBLISHER=COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PRESSISBN=DATE=1997 URL= PUBLISHER=YALE UNIVERSITY PRESS ISBN=, [The postpositivist physicalism of philosophers such as the Churchlands and linguistic essentialism were the] "...two main movements of analytic philosophy of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s; no other analytic movement even compares with them in influence and acceptance.", NeurophilosophyPhilosophy of mindPhilosophy of scienceMedical ethics>Medical and environmental ethics| notable_ideas = Neurophilosophy, Eliminative Materialism| influences = David Hume, Willard Van Orman Quine, Francis Crick, Paul Churchland| influenced =| spouse = Paul Churchland}}Patricia Smith Churchland (born 16 July 1943BOOK,weblink Consciousness: Theories in Neuroscience and Philosophy of Mind, Cavanna, Andrea E.,, Nani, Andrea,, 9783662440889, Heidelberg, 9, 892914346, ) is a Canadian-American analytical philosopherBOOK, Dummett, Michael, 2010, The Nature and Future of Philosophy, Columbia University Press, 33, "A small number of analytic philosophers–notoriously the two Churchlands–treat the absence of any detailed correspondence [between specific mental occurrences and particular events in the brain] as an objection not to the thesis of mind/brain identity, but to reliance on our familiar mental constructs.", BOOK, Smith, Quentin, 1997, Ethical and Religious Thought in Analytic Philosophy of Language, Yale University Press, 93–94, [The postpositivist physicalism of philosophers such as the Churchlands and linguistic essentialism were the] "...two main movements of analytic philosophy of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s; no other analytic movement even compares with them in influence and acceptance.", noted for her contributions to neurophilosophy and the philosophy of mind. She is UC President's Professor of Philosophy Emerita at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), where she has taught since 1984. She has also held an adjunct professorship at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies since 1989.WEB, Salk Institute: Adjunct Faculty,weblink Salk Institute, 14 August 2011, She is a member of the Board of Trustees Moscow Center for Consciousness Studies of Philosophy Department, Moscow State University.WEB, People,weblink Moscow Center for Consciousness Studies of Philosophy Department, 15 September 2014, In 2015, she was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciencesweblink Educated at the University of British Columbia, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Oxford, she taught philosophy at the University of Manitoba from 1969 to 1984 and is married to the philosopher Paul Churchland.WEB, Churchland, Patricia, Curriculum Vitae,weblink 14 August 2011, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 14 August 2011, Larissa MacFarquhar, writing for The New Yorker, observed of the philosophical couple that: "Their work is so similar that they are sometimes discussed, in journals and books, as one person."WEB,weblink TWO HEADS A marriage devoted to the mind-body problem., Larissa MacFarquhar, February 12, 2007,, May 14, 2017,


Early life and education

Churchland was born Patricia Smith in Oliver, British Columbia, and raised on a farm in the South Okanagan valley. Both of her parents lacked a high-school education; her father and mother left school after grades 6 and 8 respectively. Her mother was a nurse and her father worked in newspaper publishing in addition to running the family farm. In spite of their limited education, Churchland has described her parents as interested in the sciences, and the worldview they instilled in her as a secular one. She has also described her parents as eager for her to attend college, and though many farmers in their community thought this "hilarious and a grotesque waste of money", they saw to it that she did so.WEB, From the Engine of Reason to the Seat of the Soul: A Brain-Wise Conversation,weblink The Science Studio, The Science Network, 30 August 2011, video, 26 June 2006, She took her undergraduate degree at the University of British Columbia, graduating with honors in 1965. She received a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship to study at the University of Pittsburgh, where she took an M.A. in 1966.WEB, Fellows Of Note - Major Awards,weblink The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, 30 August 2011, Princeton, NJ, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 28 September 2011, Thereafter she studied at Oxford University as a British Council and Canada Council Fellow, obtaining a B. Phil in 1969.

Academic career

Churchland's first academic appointment was at the University of Manitoba, where she was an assistant professor from 1969 to 1977, an associate professor from 1977 to 1982, and promoted to a full professorship in 1983. It was here that she began to make a formal study of neuroscience with the help and encouragement of Larry Jordan, a professor with a lab in the Department of Physiology there.WEB, Faculty of Medicine - Physiology,weblink University of Manitoba - Department of Physiology, 30 August 2011, web page, From 1982 to 1983 she was a Visiting Member in Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.WEB, Social Science Only,weblink A Community of Scholars, Institute for Advanced Study, 30 August 2011, Princeton, NJ, Churchland, Patricia Smith [V] SocSci 1982-83, In 1984, she was invited to take up a professorship in the department of philosophy at UCSD, and relocated there with her husband Paul, where both have remained since.WEB, Churchland, Paul M., Curriculum Vitae,weblink UCSD Philosophy Department, 30 August 2011, 19 January 2007, Since 1989, she has also held an adjunct professorship at the Salk Institute adjacent to UCSD's campus, where she became acquainted with Jonas Salk whose name the Institute bears. Describing Salk, Churchland has said that he "liked the idea of neurophilosophy, and he gave me a tremendous amount of encouragement at a time when many other people thought that we were, frankly, out to lunch." Another important supporter Churchland found at the Salk Institute was Francis Crick. At the Salk Institute, Churchland has worked with Terrence Sejnowski's lab as a research collaborator.WEB, CNL - People,weblink Computational Neurobiology Laboratory, The Salk Institute, 30 August 2011, web page, Her collaboration with Sejnowski culminated in a book, The Computational Brain (MIT Press, 1993), co-authored with Sejnowski. Churchland was named the UC President's Professor of Philosophy in 1999, and served as Chair of the Philosophy Department at UCSD from 2000-2007.She attended and was a speaker at the secularist (Beyond Belief: Science, Religion, Reason and Survival|Beyond Belief) symposia in 2006, 2007, and 2008.WEB, Beyond Belief: Science, Religion, Reason and Survival,weblink The Science Network, 14 August 2011, web page and video, 5–7 November 2006, WEB, Beyond Belief: Enlightenment 2.0,weblink The Science Network, web page and video, 31 October – 2 November 2007, WEB, Beyond Belief: Candles in the Dark,weblink The Science Network, 14 August 2011, web page and video, 3–6 October 2008, In November, 2006, she presented at (Beyond Belief: Science, Religion, Reason and Survival|Beyond Belief)

Personal life

Churchland first met her husband, the philosopher Paul Churchland, while they were both enrolled in a class on Plato at the University of Pittsburgh, and they were married after she completed her B.Phil at Oxford University. Their children are Mark M. Churchland (born 1972) and Anne K. Churchland (born 1974), both of whom are neuroscientists.WEB, Anne Churchland - Assistant Professor,weblink Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, 15 August 2011, web page, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 19 July 2011, WEB, Movement Generation Laboratory - Mark Churchland,weblink Columbia University, 2 April 2013, web page, 2 April 2013,


{{BLP primary sources|section|date=February 2012}}Churchland has focused on the interface between neuroscience and philosophy. According to her, philosophers are increasingly realizing that to understand the mind one must understand the brain. She is associated with a school of thought called eliminative materialism, which argues that commonsense, immediately intuitive, or "folk psychological" concepts such as thought, free will, and consciousness will likely need to be revised in a physically reductionistic way as neuroscientists discover more about the nature of brain function.WEB, Pat Churchland on Eliminative Materialism,weblink Philosophy Bites, 14 August 2011, Warburton, Nigel, Edmonds, David, audio, 2010, 2014 saw a brief exchange of views on these topics with Colin McGinn in the pages of the New York Review Of Booksweblink

Awards and honors

  • MacArthur Fellowship, 1991WEB, MacArthur Fellows List, "C",weblink The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, 14 August 2011, web page, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 26 September 2008,
  • Humanist Laureate, International Academy of Humanism, 1993WEB, International Academy of Humanism - Humanist Laureates,weblink Council For Secular Humanism, 14 August 2011, web page,
  • Honorary Doctor of Letters, University of Virginia, 1996
  • Honorary Doctor of Law, University of Alberta, 2007WEB,weblink University of Alberta - Fall Convocation 2007, 22 November 2007, University of Alberta, web page,weblink" title="">weblink 28 November 2011, 14 August 2011,
  • Distinguished Cognitive Scientist, UC, Merced Cognitive and Information Sciences program, 2011WEB, Distinguished Cognitive Scientist Award,weblink University of California, Merced, 14 August 2011, web page, 4 May 2011, yes,weblink" title="">weblink 13 August 2011,
  • Fellow of the Cognitive Science Society, 2011WEB, Leiter, Brian, Two Philosophers Elected Fellows of the Cognitive Science Society,weblink Leiter Reports: A Philosophy Blog, 30 June 2017, 7 October 2011,


As sole author

As co-author or editor

  • The Computational Brain. (1992) Patricia S. Churchland and T. J. Sejnowski. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.
  • Neurophilosophy and Alzheimer's Disease. (1992) Edited by Y. Christen and Patricia S. Churchland. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.
  • The Mind-Brain Continuum (1996). Edited by R.R. Llinás and Patricia S. Churchland: The MIT Press.
  • On the Contrary: Critical Essays 1987-1997. (1998). Paul M. Churchland and Patricia S. Churchland. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

See also



Further reading

  • The Churchlands and Their Critics. (1996) Robert N. McCauley. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley-Blackwell
  • On the Churchlands. (2004) William Hirstein. Florence, Kentucky: Thomson Wadsworth

External links

{{Commons category}} {{Analytic philosophy}}{{Philosophy of mind}}{{Consciousness}}{{Authority control}}

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