Functionalism vs. Physicalism

Essay by Anonymous UserUniversity, Bachelor'sB, March 1996

download word file, 2 pages 3.5

While acquiring knowledge on the topics of Functionalism and

Physicalism, I ran across many disagreement between the two. Interestingly,

those disagreements gave me an impression of different sides arguing with their

own support from their own theories. As if an Arabian and a Roman were arguing

about whether the number eleven is an 'Arabic' number or a 'Roman' number.

Though, as I read more and more of the readings (especially Putnam's), I started

to see a pattern that led me to think that maybe Functionalism is compatible with

Physicalism after all; that these two theories can coexist.

The claim above is based on the information gathered in the two readings

assigned and therefore, I should go step by step in order to arrive at my

conclusion that they can indeed coexist. First, I draw Ned Block's elaboration on

Metaphysical Functionalism as a start of my argument. As Block suggests,

Metaphysical Functionalism is mainly concern about what mental states are;

instead of a psychological explanation (Block, p.

172). Moreover, they concern

themselves with mental state type; not a specific token of the type. As in the case

of pain, they are concerned with a mental state called pain, and not of particular

pains (i.e. stomach-ache, pin-pricks, etc.). But, according to Putnam, if the

Physicalists does indeed attributes the name 'physical states' to the enormous

number of mental states we humans have, then, I think it would be impossible for

them to be concerned only with the type and not the tokens. But once they started

to consider each specific pain (token), they will have to ascribe a different

physical-chemical state to each token-state. Ultimately, the common thing 'to all

pains in virtue of which they are pains (Block, p. 172)' cannot be put in terms of a

single physical state.