Functionalism and inverted spectra

Synthese 82 (2):207-22 (1990)
Functionalism, a philosophical theory, has empirical consequences. Functionalism predicts that where systematic transformations of sensory input occur and are followed by behavioral accommodation in which normal function of the organism is restored such that the causes and effects of the subject's psychological states return to those of the period prior to the transformation, there will be a return of qualia or subjective experiences to those present prior to the transform. A transformation of this type that has long been of philosophical interest is the possibility of an inverted spectrum. Hilary Putnam argues that the physical possibility of acquired spectrum inversion refutes functionalism. I argue, however, that in the absence of empirical results no a priori arguments against functionalism, such as Putnam's, can be cogent. I sketch an experimental situation which would produce acquired spectrum inversion. The mere existence of qualia inversion would constitute no refutation of functionalism; only its persistence after behavioral accommodation to the inversion would properly count against functionalism. The cumulative empirical evidence from experiments on image inversion suggests that the results of actual spectrum inversion would confirm rather than refute functionalism
Keywords Epistemology  Functionalism  Inversion  Spectrum Problem  Putnam, H
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DOI 10.1007/BF00413662
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References found in this work BETA
Sydney Shoemaker (1982). The Inverted Spectrum. Journal of Philosophy 79 (July):357-381.

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Citations of this work BETA
Ned Block (2007). Wittgenstein and Qualia. Philosophical Perspectives 21 (1):73-115.
David J. Cole (1994). Thought and Qualia. Minds and Machines 4 (3):283-302.

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