Theories on the Mind Term Paper by scribbler

Theories on the Mind
A review of the theories on mental states and brain states.
# 153329 | 759 words | 2 sources | APA | 2013 | US
Published on May 22, 2013 in Philosophy (General)

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The paper explains that according to physicalism, mind states are realized by brain states and there are several varieties of physicalism, including the identity theory. The paper discusses the identity theory and points out the problem with this theory that is solved by functionalism. The paper then presents the arguments against functionalism, including the China brain argument, and identifies the key causes of the intuition that the China brain could not possibly have mental states.

From the Paper:

"One problem with the identity theory is that it does not account for multiple realizability of mental states. For example, in some species pain might be instantiated by a-fiber firing, rather than c-fiber firing. This problem with the identity theory is solved by functionalism. Functionalism holds that mental states are identical to those brain states that occupy the same causal role (Ravenscroft, p. 53). Therefore, functionalism in its physicalist form posits token identity but not necessarily type identity between mental states and brain states. Any one of a number of brain states could instantiate a mental state. Thus mental states are multiply realizable. A brain state is identical to a mental state just in case the same causes that produce the mental state produce the brain state, and the same effects that are produced by the mental state are produced by the brain state.
"One argument against functionalism is that it ascribes mental states to systems that plainly could not have them, and that therefore functionalism is too liberal. The China brain argument against functionalism is one such argument. According to this objection to functionalism, one could imagine a large network of people, say the people of China, that ring specific numbers whenever specific numbers ring them. As long as the input-output rules are followed, the China brain mimics a human brain (Block, 1978, p. 216). However, it seems absurd to say that the China brain has mental states, such as pain (Ravenscroft, p. 58) (Block, 1978, p. 217)."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Block, N. (1978). Functionalist Approaches. In D. Rosenthal (Ed.), The Nature of Mind (pp. 211-228). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
  • Ravenscoft, I. (2005). Philosophy of Mind. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

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