Functionalism Essay

Functionalism Essay

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Functionalism is a materialist stance in the philosophy of mind that argues that mental states are purely functional, and thus categorized by their input and output associations and causes, rather than by the physical makeup that constitutes its parts. In this manner, functionalism argues that as long as something operates as a conscious entity, then it is conscious. Block describes functionalism, discusses its inherent dilemmas, and then discusses a more scientifically-driven counter solution called psychofunctionalism and its failings as well. Although Block’s assertions are cogent and well-presented, the psychofunctionalist is able to provide counterarguments to support his viewpoint against Block’s criticisms. I shall argue that though both concepts are not without issue, functionalism appears to satisfy a more acceptable description that philosophers can admit over psychofunctionalism’s chauvinistic disposition that attempts to limit consciousness only to the human race.
To commence, functionalists are preoccupied with making mental states distinct, partly on the basis of causal relations to other mental states. Functionalism involves the conviction that psychological or mental terms can be done away to a certain extent. Functionalists treat terms related to mental states as functional characterizations which differ from input and output terms. Therefore, when the theory is broken down, mental states are associated with the states of the Turing-machine, which on its own is defined as a machine table that mentions inputs and outputs that are not explored in the mind (Block, pg. 212). Additionally, functionalism empathizes that characterization of mental states ought to include descriptions of inputs and outputs in both it...


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...e to claim that objects that were created by humans, including robots, wire and metal structures and series of computer networks could and do possess qualia. Once people have reached the highest nirvana in the limits of consciousness and can create a consciousness device to measure its depths among classes of humans and non-humans, then functionalism can be shelved and rejected if it is the case that a robot does not contain qualia. Until then, however, functionalism needs to be carefully considered and not disregarded for its merits in the problem of mental states. Though for many, psychofunctionalism may be the more favorable choice because it is easier for people to consider themselves as the most intelligent beings and rulers of the universe rather than every collection of objects that satisfy the functional role to have consciousness on the same level as them.

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