Functionalism Vs. Cartesian Dualism

2009 Words9 Pages
Functionalism, one of the most influential and widespread theories of mind of our day, proposes a model of human behaviour based on the way certain inputs are processed when the mind is in a given state, to yield certain outputs. This theory concerns itself only what mental states do, rather than the substance with which they are made, or whether they exist at all; this is called ‘multiple realizability’. In other words, the theory is ontologically modest, or flexible, and this enables functionalism to stay compatible with Cartesian dualism or monisms like materialism, an advantage when other theories lose followers due to their ontological preconceptions. The other notable strength functionalism claims is that it avoids some of the pitfalls of its counterpart theory, behaviourism. However each of these apparent strengths has flaws, both in and of themselves and in comparison to other theories of mind. These strengths and their flaws will be assessed in this essay, but allow me first to outline what the functionalist theory of mind proposes.
The easiest and most general way to understand the functionalist view is through the example of a Turing machine. This is an abstract model of a machine, proposed by Alan Turing, which has a tape that can move infinitely in either direction, a scanner/sensor and a small printer attachment. On the tape there is a random sequence of symbols or lack thereof. The symbol at a specific point along the tape, chosen from a finite alphabet of

More about Functionalism Vs. Cartesian Dualism

Open Document