Functionalism (philosophy of Mind)

Functionalism (philosophy Of Mind)

Functionalism is a theory of the mind in contemporary philosophy, developed largely as an alternative to both the identity theory of mind and behaviourism. Its core idea is that mental states (beliefs, desires, being in pain, etc.) are constituted solely by their functional role — that is, they are causal relations to other mental states, sensory inputs, and behavioral outputs. Functionalism is a theoretical level between the physical implementation and behavioral output. Therefore, it is different from its predecessors of Cartesian dualism (advocating independent mental and physical substances) and Skinnerian behaviourism and physicalism (declaring only physical substances) because it is only concerned with the effective functions of the brain, through its organization or its ‘software programs’.

Since mental states are identified by a functional role, they are said to be realized on multiple levels; in other words, they are able to be manifested in various systems, even perhaps computers, so long as the system performs the appropriate functions. While computers are physical devices with electronic substrate that perform computations on inputs to give outputs, so brains are physical devices with neural substrate that perform computations on inputs which produce behaviours.

While functionalism has its advantages, there have been several arguments against it, claiming that it is an insufficient account of the mind.

Read more about Functionalism (philosophy Of Mind):  Multiple Realizability, Functionalism and Physicalism

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Functionalism (philosophy Of Mind) - Criticism - Triviality Arguments
... Hilary Putnam, John Searle, and others have offered arguments that functionalism is trivial, i.e ... that the internal structures functionalism tries to discuss turn out to be present everywhere, so that either functionalism turns out to reduce to behaviorism, or to complete triviality and therefore a form of panpsychism ...