- Functionalism in the philosophy of mind is the doctrine that what makes something a mental state of a particular type does not depend on its internal constitution, but rather on the way it functions, or the role it plays, in the system of which it is a part. This doctrine is rooted in Aristotle's conception of the soul, and has antecedents in Hobbes's conception of the mind as a “calculating machine”, but it has become fully articulated (and popularly endorsed) only in the last third of the 20th century. Though the term ‘functionalism’ is used to designate a variety of positions in a variety of other disciplines, including psychology, sociology, economics, and architecture, this entry focuses exclusively on functionalism as a philosophical thesis about the nature of mental states.
- The following sections will trace the intellectual antecedents of contemporary functionalism, sketch the different types of functionalist theories, and discuss the most serious objections to them.
- What is Functionalism?
- Antecedents of Functionalism
- 2.1 Early Antecedents
- 2.2 Thinking Machines and the “Turing Test”
- 2.3 Behaviorism
- Varieties of Functionalism
- 3.1 Machine State Functionalism
- 3.2 Psycho-Functionalism
- 3.3 Analytic Functionalism
- 3.4 Role-functionalism and Realizer-functionalism
- Constructing Plausible Functional Theories
- 4.1 Functional Definitions and Ramsey-sentences
- 4.2 Characterizing Experiential States
- 4.3 Characterizing Intentional States
- 4.4 Characterizing the Inputs and Outputs of a System
- Objections to Functionalism
- 5.1 Functionalism and Holism
- 5.2 Functionalism and Mental Causation2
- 5.3 Functionalism and Introspective Belief
- 5.4 Functionalism and the Norms of Reason
- 5.5 Functionalism and the Problem of Qualia
- 5.5.1 Inverted and Absent Qualia
- 5.5.2 Functionalism, Zombies, and the “Explanatory Gap”
- 5.5.3 Functionalism and the Knowledge Argument
- The Future of Functionalism
Other Internet Resources
Footnote 1: Taken from the 2009 edition.
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