12 The concept of cognition: functionalism and direct realism Flashcards Preview

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Why can the mind-brain hypothesis not account for intentionality?

If all mental activity is neural, then the object of thought must be internal to the brain. For this to be true, there must be a form of mental representation of events external to the brain. But for the brain to decode this mental representation, it must have knowledge of the external event – which makes the representation redundant.


What is functionalism?

The theory that the condition for being a mental state is given by the functional role of the state.


What is a 'functional role' in functionalism?

'Functional role' means the mental state's causal relationships. i.e. those states which produce the mental states and which are produced by it when the state interacts with further mental states and perceptual input.


How can functionalism in mental states be explained by the analogy of a clock?

Clocks can be made of various things – pendulums, transistors, valves. An object is a clock not because of its physical properties, but by what it does – its function or role – to keep time and communicate time to us. Property of being a clock is a functional property. This functional property is independent of its material.

Same for mental state. Eg. consciousness defined by functional role of being conscious – the state’s causal relationships. Mental states defined in terms of their causal effects, not anything else.


How can the idea of functionalism be used to justify the possibility of thinking computers?

If mental states – such as thought – are functional properties, independent of their material, then there is nothing to prevent a computer doing the same thing as a brain, but with different material.


What is the idea of multiple realisability?

Mental states can be realised across a variety of differing physical contexts. E.g. Transcendence.


How is the idea of multiple realisability suggested by the history of computing?

Computers have taken different forms over history, but do the same thing.

Charles Babbages calculating machines; 1950s vacuum tubes; miniscule transistors; microchips.


Does functionalism make a mind/brain distinction?

No, brains (and computers) REALISE or GIVE RISE TO mental states, computations etc. The mental emerges from the physical.


How does the ontology of functionalism play out?

You have a set of physical properties, say P1, P2, P3, P4, and these set of properties give rise to a mental property M1. The mental is not identical to the physical, it emerges from the physical.

M1 is a higher-level property distinct from, but dependent on, its many realising properties.


What is the teleological objection to functionalism?

The mental state is being defined by identifying its consequences. (e.g. the clock tells the time). The mental is not being defined independently of its effects. Its existence appears to be contingent upon its effects, which makes no sense.


How would a direct realist explain why functionalism can't give a description of the mental without referring to its effects?

Because there is no mental to describe – the mental is not a thing, it’s relational. It doesn’t have its own features.


How might a functionalist account of mental states be accused of dualism?

What’s being proposed are two levels of reality, the physical and the mental (which emerges from the physical). But there can be no relation between these terms when one is at a physical level and other at a mental level. the notion of lower and higher levels involves problem of dualism. There is no coherent account without collapsing the two terms.


Functionalism depends on a notion of supervenience, of the mental supervening the physical. What's the problem with this?

Many state notion of supervenience is not part of real world furniture. Partner relations – yes. But relation of dependence may be construct on the part of philosophers, there is no ontological state of supervenience/dependence.


How does the mereological fallacy apply to functionalism?

The brain is not a logically appropriate subject for psychological attributes, such as knowing or calculating – BECAUSE thinking and knowing and planning are ascribable to the whole animal, not just to some part of it.

A car may be a fast car, but the ENGINE is not fast. Stomachs don't eat lunch.

The same thing goes for psychological predicates such as the brain or central nervous system. Functionalists mistakenly say that knowing or perceiving are realised by brain states.

it consists of ascribing properties of the part of which it only makes sense to ascribe to the whole in the philosophy of mind this amounts to ascribing psychological predicates to the brain when it only makes sense to ascribe to a living conscious human being as Wittgenstein put it:

Only of a living human being and what resembles (behaves likes) a living human being can one say: it has sensations; it sees; is blind; hears; is deaf; is conscious or unconscious.

it is one thing to suggest on empirical grounds correlations between a subjective, complex whole (say, the activity of deciding and some particular physical part of that capacity, say, neural firings) but there is considerable objection to concluding that the part just is the whole. These claims are not false; rather, they are devoid of sense.


What is mereology?

Mereology – relation of parts to wholes.


The mental (M1) is a ______-______ property distinct from, but __________ on, its many _________ properties (P1-4).

The mental (M1) is a higher-level property distinct from, but dependent on, its many realising properties (P1-4).