An Analysis Of Ned Block In Troubles With Functionalism

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Ned Block in Troubles with Functionalism offers his Absent Qualia Argument. The argument provides a counter example to functionalism. The essential aspect to the functional theory of mind defines mentality in terms of its functional states of a system. The functional states of a system match states according to their inputs, outputs, and internal states. Block’s counter example argues for the possibility of two systems to have the same functional states which determines their functional equivalence. In addition to functional equivalence, the two systems have distinguishable mental states. If functionalism is as adequate account of mentality, then functional equivalence entails mental state equivalence. Block argues against the consequent of…show more content…
Behaviorist identify mental states with dispositions. A mental state is identical when, given the same inputs the disposition toward a particular output in the same. Unlike functionalism, behaviorism recognizes dispositions according to merely outward behavior. Alternatively, a functional system includes a typical behavioral outputs given a range of inputs, as well as a tendency to experience a property of a mental state. Functionalists want to individuate mental states causally, but since mental states have mental effects, functionalist advance on behaviorism by acknowledging some similar input and output systems have similar descriptions without entailing similar mental effects. Functionalism, as an advancement of behaviorism, also describes the function of the mental state.
The Absent Qualia Argument’s counterexample suggests functionalism is susceptible to similar problems behaviorism faces. The additional requirement functionalism holds, namely functionally equivalent internal states, mental states possibly differ. Block argues it is plausible to not only have type identical behavior states, but also functionally equivalent mental states. However, functionally equivalent functional states cannot ensure equivalent mental states. So, functionalist theories of mental states are insufficient theories of the nature of mental
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The first counter case to functionalism is the ‘homunculi head’. In this thought experiment Block asks us to conceive of a body externally equivalent to our own, but with a distinct internally distinct (pg. 215). The homunculi-head uses tiny men to process inputs and outputs. Each man performs a role normally accomplished by a part of your brain. The G-men do not work together on any functional role in the system, so little intelligence is required to be a G-man. Nevertheless, each G-man is able to perform the same role a part of your brain normally would. If you add up enough roles in a brain you can achieve qualitative states. With the homunculi-head these roles cannot be conjoined to give rise to a qualitative state. With all the G-men performing the same role as the brain the two systems are functionally equivalent. If functionalism is true, then an arrangement of G-men could have a qualitative state. But, it is intuitively false an arrangement of unintelligent G-men could have a single mental state you would normally have. So, functionalism is false.
The general point behind the homunculi-head introduces consideration to the possibility of brain functions being done by parts which could not together be conscious. Functionalism requires only similar machine instructions which serve out a set of outputs given a set of inputs. Block’s counter arguments shows such an account of

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