Essay on Functionalism, Materialism And Mind Brain Identity Theory

1484 Words Apr 7th, 2016 6 Pages
To answer this question I will fist give an explanation of what functionalism is and its relation to dualism, materialism and mind-brain identity theory. From here I will outline the two key objections it faces namely the extra-cranial objection or china brain thought experiment and the qualia objection. I will state and explain why the qualia objection is the most serious of the two and why functionalism at present can not fully overcome it but in doing so I will address the replies functionalism gives as defence against this.


Functionalism is a form materialism, which in turn is the interpretation of processes of the mind as both mental states and brain states depending on how they present themselves, however there is only one thing producing both. This is in contrast to dualism, the Cartesian theory that separates the body and mind as individual substances. Functionalism addresses the main problem dualism faces of explaining how two separate substances interact when there is only one output for both, the body.

This issue was first addressed by the mind-brain identity theory which argued that mental states and physical states are one in the same and so identical. As an analogous example take the guitar as the brain state and the sound it creates as the mental state. When the guitar is played it produces a sound so when we hear that sound we recognise it as a guitar, even without seeing the guitar itself when we hear the sound we know the sound would not…

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