Mental States and The Brain

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In this paper, I will argue that ‘It is more reasonable to think that the patient has mental states’ and will attempt to tackle the points made by each of the doctors to reach a more suitable and apt conclusion on how the mental states relate and associate with the presence/absence of the patients brain.

My aim for this paper is to explain how a patient with an inorganic brain i.e. a digital computer in place for the original brain, who behaves normally actually has mental states. Further, I will also tackle the points raised by Doctor 1 and Doctor 3 to make my case stronger and the conclusion more apt.

First and foremost, it is important to have a clear understanding of what the scenario with the patient is and what stance each doctor is making.

So here is the background story: We have a patient in a certain hospital that has been behaving normally under all circumstances, but she doesn’t possess a regular organic brain built of tissues like mine and, I assume, yours. Her brain has been replaced by a digital computer that takes the feedback her nervous system, processes it and causes her to react.

Now, here is the take of each doctor on her mental states:

Doctor 1 (dualist), believes that she has no mental states as she now lacks a ‘soul’.

Doctor 2 (monist-functionalist), a more reasonable man, feels the causal power of the digital computer is similar to the human brain and hence is producing mental states as well.

Doctor 3 (monist-identity theorist), says that the mental states are directly associated with the brain and the absence of the organic brain implies the absence of the mental states as well.

Doctor 4 (monist-behaviorist), says that because the patient’s behavior and her disposition to behave hasn’t change...

... middle of paper ...

...fully capable of thinking and reacting to situations and is hence fully capable of having mental states. Therefore, it is more reasonable to claim that the patient has mental states.


Before citing sources I would like to thank Dr. Jillian S. McIntosh and Duncan Branhardt for the guidance they provided in understanding the topic, the material and on presenting the paper.

An overview on behaviorism:

An overview on functionalism:

An overview on identity theory:

Lecture Slides for Phil 100W-1141, Spring 2014, Dr. Jillian S. McIntosh © 2014

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