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Functionalism and qualia

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Chan, Jeffrey Wing-Hung (1986) Functionalism and qualia. Unspecified thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

This thesis is an attempt to defend functionalism against the various problems
concerning qualia. It consists of five chapters.
Chapter I sets forth the fundamental idea of functionalism. Two
formulations of functionalism are presented, and related concepts such as
realization, functional equivalence and functional identity defined. Functionalism
is then contrasted with behaviourism as a theory of the mind. Its relation to
physicalism is subsequently examined. The question whether a functional
description should be derived from folk psychological theories is finally
discussed. I argue that folk psychology plays a role in the sophistication of
functionalism. I do two things in chapter II. I start by giving a brief outline of the
various qualia problems which I tackle in later chapters. After this, I put down
a definition of the notion 'qualia'. By 'qualia' is usually meant the phenomenal
qualities of bodily and perceptual experiences. These qualities are understood
to be mental qualities revealed to us through introspection. I point out that to
understand 'qualia' as such seems to commit the critics of functionalism to a
representative or adverbial theory of perception.
Chapter III contains my rebuttals of Nagel's and Jackson's arguments
which aim to show that qualia are non-physical properties. I argue that their arguments are either ill-founded or ontologically benign. I conclude the chapter
with -criticisms of Campbell's New Epiphenomenalism.
Chapter IV deals with the inverted qualia argument. I begin with an
explicit formulation of the argument, and spectrum inversion is chosen as a
paradigmatic case of qualia inversion. Then I elaborate and supplement
Churchland's defence of functionalism - his contention that qualia are irrelevant
to the type-identities of sensory experiences. I develop my argument in the
following two sections. First, basing my argument on some features of colours,
I contend that it is highly unlikely to have behaviourally undetectable spectrum
inversion. Secondly, I argue that even if spectrum inversion is possible, the
colour experience of a spectrum-inverted person is still not functionally identical
with the corresponding colour experience of an ordinary person. Chapter V is a refutation of the absent qualia argument. I maintain that
functional equivalence constitutes a strong reason for the ascription of qualia.
Block's reason for withholding qualia from the homunculi-headed systems he
articulates is shown to be question-begging. Finally, I argue that even if we
concede to Block that qualia are neurophysiological properties, functionalism
can still be defended.

Item Type: Thesis (Unspecified)
Keywords: Functionalism (Psychology), Quality (Philosophy)
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1986 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (M.A.)--University of Tasmania, 1987

Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2014 00:43
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2016 05:56
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