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Chapter 5

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PHIL 2240
Brandon Fenton

Functionalism  5.1 Introduction  Rejects the notion of the mind as an entity, a logical substance  The mind is a function  Distinction between:  The function of a thing – i.e. what job it performs  What set of arrangements enables the thing to discharge its function  Functions by nature are multiply realizable  A function is independent of what enable it to function  Neither physical nor non-physical  Not identical with the arrangements that embody them, require some kind of embodiment to be carried out  5.2 Metaphysical functionalism  Specification of mental states is abstract  Characterize mental states in terms of inputs, outputs, relations to other mental states  Input (tissue damage) --- PAIN --- Output( groaning, desire to be rid of input (needs separate functional analysis)  Mental states as a function comprise these, which also need to be functionally analysed  Metaphysical functionalism – mental state specified purely formally  Expression of a conceptual truth, something that is necessarily the case and could not otherwise  5.3 Psycho-functionalism and the concept of a person  What set of arrangements enables the function  Mental functions are incarnated in neurophysiological processes in the brain and central nervous system  Since the notion of a soul is dubious  But it possible because metaphysical functionalism is neutral, between materialism and immaterialist metaphysics  Psycho-functionalism: spelling out the details of what has come to be called the causal occupant of the functional role  Willing to allow that it is conceivable that mental functions may also be embodied I other different sorts of physical arrangements  Not logically necessary for a person to be a human being because there could be non-human persons  This is because there are humans who have ceased to be people or persons, I the fullest sense, such as those who brains have been irreversibly and severely damaged  Metaphysical functionalism (abstract specification of mental state in terms of inputs, outputs, and relations to other mental states) > psycho-functional embodiments > human beings, human neurology; animals, animal neurology; androids, silicon chips?  Unlikely that a statement of necessary and sufficient conditions for someone to qualify as a person can be provided: following not intended to be rigidly definitive:  Not possession of a consciousness because contra Descartes that would deny animals  Aristotelian view, the mind emerges and increases as we ascend the evolutionary tree  Animals have mental states: sensations, perceptions, etc.  Difficult to explain intentional content with animals  Another answer: persons have the capacity for self-consciousness  Can form a concept of themselves over time  To make a identifying reference to oneself and to predicate a particular mental state to oneself require the possession of language, containing the necessary apparatus of referring and predicating expressions  Animals lacking this are debarred from higher forms of self-consciousness which characterizes persons  Persons capable of evaluation of their desires, accessing for practicality, desirability, and abandoning if necessary, so never reach firm fledged intentions  Can be expressed as second-order desires  Animals cannot  Harry Frankfurt: wantons – act unreflectively and immediately when prompted by needs and appetites unless prevented  Persons unlike animals are capable of deliberated choices  Autonomy and free will of persons found in this  Animals lack remorse, compassion, moral indignation because without language they lack moral concepts, values and beliefs that make these complex emotions possible  Lack compassion, reflecting on welfare of another  Incapable of aesthetic appreciation  Possession of personhood is a matter of degree, not all or nothing  The possibility of personhood in humans allows us to treat each other, even those mentally handicapped, as more than mere things  If life-forms exhibit enough of the aforementioned list they could be viewed as a person, regardless of species  Functions are not reducible to material arrangements (mental state always and everywhere identical with a given brain state) that make them possible, contrary to the mind/brain identity theory  5.4 Computational or Turing machine functionalism  Computers purpose is to complete functions  John Searle: in any given age the latest technology has been seen as t
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