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Functionalism The Identity Theory Notes

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This is an extract of our Functionalism The Identity Theory document, which we sell as part of our Philosophy of Mind Notes collection written by the top tier of Oxford University students.

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The Identity Theory & Functionalism 'The Causal Theory of the Mind' - David Armstrong
? "The present state of scientific knowledge makes it probable that we can give a purely physico-chemical account of man's body. It seems increasingly likely that the body and the brain of man are constituted and work according to exactly the same principles as those physical principles that govern other, non-organic, matter." o "The differences between a stone and a human body appear to lie solely in the extremely complex material set-up that is to be found in the living body and which is absent in the stone." o "Furthermore, there is rather strong evidence that it is the state of our brain that completely determines the state of our consciousness and our mental state generally."
? Armstrong thinks a natural conclusion to draw from this is that mental states are identical with brain states. o This is intelligible once we have the correct analysis of mental concepts:
? "The concept of a mental state essentially involves, and is exhausted by, the concept of a state that is apt to be the cause of certain effects or apt to be the effect of certain causes." o Analogous to something like the concept of poisons.
? We need to introduce the concepts of purpose, belief, and perception together or not at all. This is not circular but shows they are interdependent. o Holism of the mental?
? Instrospective awareness should be analysed as a kind of inner perception - a "mapping of the causal factors themselves."
? Causal analysis is also good because it helps explain intentional inexistence: can 'point towards' something (as a rocket can point to space) which it will only reach in the 'normal conditions'. o "For the mechanism to operate successfully, some device will be required by which the developing situation is "mapped" in the mechanism."
? This is an elementary analogue of perception.
? Phenomenal qualities are qualities of what is perceived, not of the perception itself. So the causal analysis doesn't 'leave something out' in this sense. o Maybe with emotions the phenomenal qualities belong to them rather than to something external. But it isn't clear anyway that there are such qualities associated with emotions.

?How is it possible that secondary qualities could be purely physical properties of the objects they are qualities of?
Thinks although secondary qualities appear to be simple, they are not in fact simple (their simplicity is epistemological but not ontological).

Excerpt from 'Troubles with Functionalism' - Ned Block - reread?
? Broad characterisation of functionalism: "each type of mental state is a state consisting of a disposition to act in certain ways and to have certain mental states, given certain sensory inputs and certain mental states."
? "Functionalism replaces behaviorism's "sensory inputs" with "sensory inputs and mental states"; and functionalism replaces behaviourism's "disposition to act" with "disposition to act and have certain mental states."
? Functionalists individuate mental states causally.
? Might be worth making an explicit argument for the claim that if functionalism is true, physicalism is false: o Turing machines can be realized by a wide variety of physical devices. o So if e.g. pain is a functional state, it cannot, e.g., be identical to a brain state, because creatures without brains can in theory realize the same Turing machine as creatures with brains.
? "Functionalism identifies mental state S with S's Ramsey functional correlate with respect to a common-sense psychological theory; Psychofunctionalism identifies S with S's Ramsey functional correlate with respect to a scientific psychological theory."
? Block thinks functionalism gives too many things mentality. o Population of China brain simulation example.
? "In describing an object as a Turing machine, one draws a line between the inside and the outside." Excerpt from 'The 'Mental' and the 'Physical'' - Herbert Feigl
? Wants to identify 'raw feels' with neural processes.
? It would be a category mistake to attempt a neurophysiological identification of the intentionality of mind.
? "[T]he crux of the mind-body problem consists in the interpretation of the relation between raw feels and the neural processes."
? "The states of direct experience which conscious human beings "live through," and those which we confidently ascribe to some of the higher animals, are identical with certain (presumably configurational) aspects of the neural processes in those organisms." o This identification is to be empirically justified.

?

"Privacy is capable of public (intersubjective) description, and the objects of intersubjective science can be evidenced by data of private experience."

From Philosophy of Mind - John Heil
? Identity theory might be more parsimonious than at least dualistic theories. o Mental properties are identified with physical properties.
? You can have property dualism as well as substance dualism.
? Philosophers "all too often assume without argument that every predicate capable of meaningful application to an object designates a property."
? Leibniz's law: Strict identity is selfsameness. If a and b are strictly identical (a=b), then any property of a must be a property of b, and vice versa."
? How do we know when we have 'found' a property?
? "[U]ndergoing an experience is one thing; observing the undergoing of an experience (a distinct experience) is something else again. The qualities of these will certainly be different."
? "The rhetorical punch of the dualist's contention that it is just obvious that qualities of experiences differ from brain qualities relies heavily on our tacitly identifying, as Leibniz apparently does, qualities of experiences with qualities of objects experienced."
? Talk of 'access' to one's sensory experiences is misleading. "Your awareness of the experiences is constituted, at least in part, by your having it."
? Now more onto functionalism:
? "To talk of minds and mental operations is to abstract from whatever 'realizes' them: to talk at a 'higher level'."
? "Minds are not identifiable with brains; but neither are minds distinct immaterial substances mysteriously linked to bodies."
? In the functionalist ontology, higher-level mental terms designate properties regarded as distinct from properties designated by lower-level terms in physics etc. o Opposed to identity theory in this sense. o "[T]here is every reason to think that creatures with vastly different material compositions (and perhaps immaterial spirits, if there are any) could be in pain."
? Seems to link to issue of universals and kinds. What is a property?
? "Just as computational operations are realized by processes in the hardware of a computing machine without being reducible to or identical with those processes, so states of mind are

???

realized by states of the brain without being reducible to or identical with those states." How are mental properties different to colour properties? If colour properties can't have different physical bases (& aren't functional properties) then how are mental properties different?
o Maybe because they involve computation. "A state is a functional state of a particular sort in the event that it answers to a particular job description - that is, in the event that it plays a particular sort of causal role in the system to which it belongs." o So the question is whether this is a good description of mental states. Don't confuse or conflate (arguments about) states with (arguments about) properties!
Circularity worry for functionalism. o Analogy between points in coordinate system and mental states - have to be inter-defined but we do not see this as dangerously circular. Might be good that functionalism doesn't draw a strict line between entities that can e.g. feel pain and those that can't.

'Psychophysical and Theoretical Identifications' - David Lewis
? Theoretical identifications in general are implied by the theories that make them possible, not posited independently. o This follows from the idea that theoretical terms are definable functionally, by reference to causal roles.
? T-terms are those introduced by a theory.
? O-terms are those used in laying out the theory that we knew before the theory.
? "T-terms are eliminable - we can always replace them by their definientia." o "Because we understand the O-terms, and we can define the T-terms from them, theories are fully meaningful; we have reason to think a good theory true; and if a theory is true, then whatever exists according to the theory really does exist." o "[T]he theorems of T are just those sentences which follow from the postulate together with the corresponding functional definition of the T-terms." o We might then come to believe that a certain set of entities realize, or even uniquely realize, the theory >
you can then perform a reduction. o "And that is how, someday, we will infer that the mental states M1, M2,... are the neural states N1, N2..."
? "If the names of mental states are like theoretical terms, they name nothing unless the theory (the cluster of platitudes) is

more or less true. Hence it is analytic that either pain, etc., do not exist or most of our platitudes about them are true." 'Is Consciousness a Brain Process?' - U.T. Place
? We can't dismiss this idea on logical grounds
? "To say that statements about consciousness are statements about brain processes is manifestly false."
? People think you can dismiss the idea on logical grounds because they fail to distinguish between the "is" of definition and the "is" of composition.
? Similar to clouds as masses of droplets in suspension: "[T]here is nothing self-contradictory in talking about a cloud which is not composed of tiny particles in suspension." o We don't make observations necessary to verify "that is a cloud" and those necessary to verify "this is a mass of tiny particles in suspension" at the same time.
? But this analogy is limited since you can verify both cloud statements by visual observation.
? "The answer here seems to be that we treat the two sets of observations as observations of the same event in those cases where the technical scientific observations set in the context of the appropriate body of scientific theory provide an immediate explanation of the observations made by the man in the street." o Is this circular?
? We are normally justified in arguing from the logical independence of two expressions to the ontological independence of the states of affairs to which they refer, but there are some exceptions, including the consciousness/brain process one.
? The phenomenological fallacy: the mistake of supposing that when the subject describes his experience, when he describes how things look, sound, smell, taste, or feel to him, he is describing the literal properties of objects and events on a peculiar sort of internal cinema or television screen. 'The Nature of Mental States' - Hilary Putnam
? "The effect of saying that the property P1 can be identical with the property P2 only if the terms P1, P2 are in some suitable sense "synonyms" is, to all intents and purposes, to collapse the two notions of "property" and "concept" into a single notion." o This is NOT a good way of doing things.
? P does not think that pain is a brain state, but that it is "a functional state of a whole organism."
? Uses notion of Probabilistic Automaton - similar to Turing machine except they go into particular states with varying

??probabilities, rather than just probability 1. (TM is special case of PA). Hypothesis in detail:

1. All organisms capable of feeling pain are PAs.

2. Every organism capable of feeling pain possesses at least one Description of a certain kind (i.e. being capable of feeling pain is possessing an appropriate kind of Functional Organization).

3. No organism capable of feeling pain possesses a decomposition into parts which separately possess Descriptions of the kind referred to in (2).

4. For every Description of the kind referred to in (2), there exists a subset of the sensory inputs such that an organism with that Description is in pain when and only when some of its sensory inputs are in that subset. Criticises the brain-state theorist for saying there is a unique physical 'correlate' of pain that must be present in different animals, including those that have evolved in parallel rather than in the same family. o He sees this as an unlikely coincidence (and thus probably not the right explanation). "[T]he brain-state theorist has to hope for the eventual development of neurophysiological laws that are speciesindependent, which seems much less reasonable than the hope that psychological laws (of a sufficiently general kind) may be species-independent, or, still weaker, that a speciesindependent form can be found in which psychological laws can be written." Against behaviourism: "[E]ven if there were some behavior disposition invariantly correlated with pain (speciesindependently!), and specifiable without using the term 'pain,' it would still be more plausible to identify being in pain with some state whose presence explains this behavior disposition
- the brain state or functional state - than with the behavior disposition itself."

'Sensations and Brain Processes' - J.J.C. Smart
? Smart's thesis: "It is that, in so far as "after-image" or "ache" is a report of a process, it is a report of a process that happens to be a brain process." o NOT that "after-image" or "ache" means the same thing as "brain process of sort X". o And NOT that the logic of a sensation statement is the same as that of a brain-process statement.
? "Sensations are nothing over and above brain processes."
? "If the meaning of an expression were what the expression named, then of course it would follow from the fact that "sensation" and "brain-process" have different meanings that

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