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Faculty of Arts Postgraduate Open Day

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1 Faculty of Arts Postgraduate Open Day
Thursday 30th October 2014 5:15pm- 7:15pm Ramphal building Are you thinking of studying at Warwick for a Masters degree or a PhD? If so, come along to the Faculty of Arts open day to talk to students and academic staff about your options. Attend the departmental fair to find out about the different Postgraduate programmes on offer in the Faculty. Drop in to one of the application workshops. Free refreshments An insight into our internationally-renowned areas of research and teaching expertise Access to detailed information on course options, funding and application processes A chance to speak to current postgraduates and academics in your area of interest A postgraduate tour of campus As well as plenty of opportunity to talk to a number of departments, there will also be information talks to assist you in making an application: Time Topic Speaker Venue 5:30pm - 5:50pm How to apply for PG study and funding Grad School, SARO and CADRE R0.12 6:00pm - 6:20pm Why study for an Arts PG qualification Chair of the Faculty and Careers Service R0.12 6:40pm - 7:00pm How to write a PhD proposal Director of CADRE R0.12 Please register to book your place

2 Philosophy of Mind Functionalism

3 Defining Functionalism
Functionalism is the theory that mental states and events are individuated by their causal roles. The functional role of a mental state is to be specified in terms of which states typically produce it, and which states and behaviour are typically produced by it.

4 On this view, what makes something a belief, desire, pain (or any other kind of mental state) depends not on its internal constitution, but solely the functional/causal role that it plays in the cognitive system of which it is part. In particular, its causal relations to sensory stimulations, other mental states, and behaviour.

5 It is thought that this theory improves on behaviourism as it recognizes that the mental cannot be simply reducible to the input and behavioural output. We need to posit the existence of a realm of inner conditions and events that causally mediate input and behavioural output if we are to adequately explain the complexity of our intentional behaviour.

6 Behaviourism Logical behaviourism, in contrast to behaviourism as a psychological theory, is a thesis about the meanings of our mental state terms or concepts. According to logical behaviourism, all statements about mental states and processes are equivalent in meaning to statements about behavioural dispositions. (A view often attributed to Ryle and sometimes to Wittgenstein).

7 Objections: Circularity: How are we to understand talk of ‘behavioral dispositions’ here? Dispositions to produce mere bodily movements? The individuation conditions for intentional actions and bodily movements seem to be quite distinct. A wide variety of bodily movements might count as carrying out the same intentional action. And the same bodily movement can correspond to quite different actions (in different contexts). To describe someone as performing a particular action seems to involve the use of psychological terms. This is problematic if the ambitions of logical behaviorism are reductive. (A related question to consider when it comes to functionalism: How should one specify are the behavioural outputs that are used to specify the functional roles of mental states?)

8 Objections Holism: What someone does depends not only on the fact that he or she holds a particular belief, say, but also on further psychological states. (i) Any putative connections between a set of psychological states and behaviour is always defeasible by the presence of further psychological states; (ii) beliefs do not express themselves in behaviour at all without corresponding desires (and further beliefs).

9 Psychological behaviourism
As a research program within psychology: As an empirical psychological theory, behaviourism holds that the behaviour of humans (and other animals) can be explained by appealing solely to behavioural dispositions – i.e. to tendencies of organisms to behave in certain ways, given certain environmental stimulations. Psychological behaviourism purports to explain human and animal behaviour in terms of external physical stimuli, responses, learning histories, and (for certain types of behaviour) reinforcements. (Pavlov, Watson and Skinner).

10 Objections: In a review of Skinner's book on verbal behaviour, Chomsky argued that behaviourist models of language learning cannot explain various facts about language acquisition, such as the rapid acquisition of language by young children. Language as such seems to be learned without being explicitly taught in detail, and behaviourism doesn't offer an account of how this could be so.

11 Functionalism and Physicalism
Functionalism does not in itself entail physicalism, but it is consistent with it. It has been argued that functionalism and the completeness of physics together entail physicalism.

12 One’s view as to whether physicalism is necessarily true may depend on whether one thinks that the completeness of physics is necessarily true. If one thinks that there are possible worlds in which the completeness of physics is false, one may think that there are possible worlds in which mental states are instantiated by non-physical properties and events.

13 Functionalism and Multiple Realizability
Functionalism is often thought to be a way of accommodating the multiple realizability of the mental. Different physical states and events can instantiate mental states, as different physical states and events can occupy the causal role that individuates each mental state. So functionalism is sometimes thought to be a way of understanding what is wrong with type identity theories. Note, however, that Lewis is both a functionalist and type identity theorist.

14 Role-Functionalism and Realizer Functionalism
What is the property of pain itself? Is it the higher-level relational property of being in some state or other that plays the “pain role” in the theory, or the physical/neural state that actually plays this role? Role-functionalists identify pain with the higher-level relational property. Realizer-functionalists take a functional theory to provide definite descriptions of whichever lower-level (e.g. neural) properties satisfy the functional characteriztions.

15 Motivations Functionalist theories have been motivated in a number of ways – e.g… consideration of the multiple realizability objection; a conceptual claim that our mental concepts are functional/causal concepts; as a critique of behaviourism; the success of cognitive psychology as an explanatory science; the computer model of the mind.

16 Varieties of Functionalism
Analytic Functionalism: The goal is to provide analyses of our ordinary mental state concepts in functional terms.

17 Varieties of Functionalism
Machine State Functionalism: The early functionalist theories of Putnam can be seen as a response to the difficulties facing behaviourism as a scientific psychological theory, and as an endorsement of the (new) computational theories of mind which were becoming increasingly significant rivals to it.

18 According to Putnam's machine state functionalism, any creature with a mind can be regarded as a Turing machine (an idealized finite state digital computer), whose operation can be fully specified by a set of instructions (a “machine table” or program) each having the form: If the machine is in state Si, and receives input Ij, it will go into state Sk and produce output Ol (for a finite number of states, inputs and outputs).

19 An Analogy: Consider a machine that dispenses cans of Coke at £1 and takes 50p pieces and £1 coins. A functional analysis of the workings of this machine might look as follows:

20 50p £1 Functional S1 • don’t deliver a Coke • change to state S2 • deliver a Coke • stay in state S1 State S2 • change to state S1 • deliver a Coke and 50p Input

21 An analysis of this kind amounts to a theory, in the following sense:
it includes nomological (law-like) generalizations; (ii) it postulates unobservable entities, i.e. functional states of the kind S1 and S2; (iii) it provides causal explanations of observable behaviour by appeal to those unobservable entities.

22 (b) Within the theory, each functional state like S1 or S2 is fully definable in terms of its relation to inputs, outputs and other functional states. That is, nothing needs to be said about the precise nature of the machine’s construction, the (physical) material it is made out of, etc.

23 (c) The explanation of the machine’s behaviour in terms of S1 and S2 depends on the existence of a (physical) mechanism implementing the functional structure. Thus, functional states are ‘non-basic’ in this sense: A system is in a given functional state Sn in virtue of being in some (physical) state that occupies the causal role definitive of Sn.

24 Varieties of Functionalism
Psycho-functionalism: Derives primarily from reflection upon the goals and methodology of cognitive psychological theories. The best empirical theories of behaviour take it to be the result of a complex of mental states and processes, introduced and individuated in terms of the roles they play in producing the behaviour to be explained. Mental states and processes are just those entities, with those properties, that are postulated by the best scientific explanation of behaviour.

25 The information used in the functional characterization of mental states and processes needn't be restricted to what is considered common knowledge or common sense, but can include information available only by careful laboratory observation and experimentation.

26 Questions: If we regard common-sense psychology as a theory, how does it relate to scientific psychology? Options: The generalizations provided by common-sense psychology can be added to by further empirical study of people’s behaviour in specific circumstances. What if there are situations in which scientific psychology seems to be in conflict with common sense. Does that mean that we have to revise our views on what mental states there are?

27 Varieties of Functionalism
Long-arm functionalism: What is the best way to characterize the stimulations and behaviours that serve as inputs and outputs to a system? Should they be construed as events involving objects in a system's environment, or rather as events in that system's sensory and motor systems? Theories of the first type are often called “long-arm” functional theories (Block 1990), since they characterize inputs and outputs — and consequently the states they are produced by and produce — by reaching out into the world.

28 Functionalism and Mental Causation
Some worry about whether role functionalism can account for what we take to be the causal efficacy of our mental states. For example, if pain is realized in me by some neural state-type, then insofar as there are purely physical law-like generalizations linking states of that type with pain behaviour, one can give a complete causal explanation of my behaviour by citing the occurrence of that neural state (and the properties by virtue of which it figures in those laws). And thus, some have argued, the higher-level role properties of that state—its being a pain—are causally irrelevant.

29 Are there different notions of causation in play
Are there different notions of causation in play? If so, how would this affect causal arguments for physicalism?

30 Functionalism and Norms of Reason
Some argue that Davidson’s interpretationist theory of the propositional attitudes is inconsistent with functionalism. Rationalization, unlike causal explanation, requires showing how an individual's beliefs, desires, and behaviour conform, or at least approximate, to certain a priori norms or ideals of theoretical and practical reasoning — prescriptions about how we should reason, or what, given our beliefs and desires, we ought to do. Thus constitutive normative/rational relations among intentional states expressed by these principles cannot comprise a kind of explanation that has sources of evidence and standards for correctness that are different from those of a causal role/functional analysis of our mental states.

31 Functionalism and Qualia
One of the threats facing functionalism is whether it can adequately account for the qualitative character of mental events. E.g. can it adequately account for the conscious aspects of experiences, sensations and other mental episodes?

32 Critics of functionalist accounts of the mental often appeal to thought experiments in which two subjects are in mental states that are functionally equivalent. If we can make sense of the idea that what it is like for one subject is different from what it is like for the other subject, then functionalism does not exhaust an account of the mental. (e.g. absent qualia and inverted spectrum arguments).

33 Inverted Spectrum Cases
E.g. couldn’t there be an individual satisfies the functional definition of our experience of red, but is experiencing green instead?

34 Absent Qualia Cases Couldn’t there be creatures functionally equivalent to normal humans whose mental states have no qualitative character at all?

35 Do such thought experiments succeed in showing that qualia exist?
What are qualia supposed to be, anyway? Does the existence of qualia threaten physicalism as well as functionalism?

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