Functionalism As A Form Of Non Robust Physicalism Essay

Functionalism As A Form Of Non Robust Physicalism Essay

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Functionalism as a form of non-robust physicalism.

Lewis argues that “If the concept of pain is the concept of a state that occupies a certain causal role, then whatever state does occupy that role is pain” (Lewis, 1980/1991, p. 230). Hence in the case of humans, crows or Martians, what determines the mental state or the role should be the brain state. For example, if I am in pain, there should be an input; let us say because I touch a hot stove with my hands. This will lead to C-fibers firing (a brain state), and this generates the causal role of pain, and the given outputs: moaning, screams, etc.. But could it be the case that a pain in my back might generate another brain state, not necessarily C-fibers firing? Lewis maintains that “If the state of having neurons hooked up in a certain way and firing in a certain pattern is the state properly apt for causing and being caused, as we materialist think, then the neural state is pain…” (Lewis, 1980/1991, p. 230). This is compatible with Goksan et al. "fMRI reveals neural activity overlap between adult and infant pain” the researchers suggests that there are “20 regions of the brain associated with the experience of pain in adults and 18 in infants” (Goksan et al, 2015),[note for Stephen, I take this from this website, http://elifesciences.org/content/4/e06356, but I am not sure about the page number or how to put this reference] That does not mean that the experience of pain could be different in the same population, only that the brain state may not always be the same. Thus, pain, for example, could be a different experience in humans, crows or Martians as their brain state are different. According to Lewis “Human pain is the state that occupies the role of pain for human...


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...vents are physical does not entail reductionism (Davidson, 1970/2002, p. 119). This is in part because Davidson is sceptical of psychophysical laws, and in part because, according to Davidson(1970) “dependence or supervenience... does not entail reducibility through law or definition” (Davidson, 1970/2002, p. 119). Many of the problems that arise to determine the physical nature of mind are related with how to accommodate the laws that may describe the universe, but ultimately these laws cannot be generalized to psychological predicates or mental properties –, there is a law of gravity, but there is no law of pain . This suggests that even though functional states are physical states, they cannot be reduced to its physical properties. Thus (combining the views of Lewis, Armstrong and Davidson), functionalism, although it is a physicalist position, is non-reductive.

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