A closer look at the chinese nation argument

Philosophy Research Archives 13:129-36 (1988)
Abstract
Ned Block’s Chinese Nation Argument is offered as a counterexample to Turing-machine functionalism. According to that argument, one billion Chinese could be organized to instantiate Turing-machine descriptions of mental states. Since we wouldn’t want to impute qualia to such an organized population, functionalism cannot account for the qualitative character of mental states like pain. Paul Churchland and Patricia Churchland have challenged that argument by trying to show that an adequate representation of the complexity of mind requires at least 10 30,000,000 homunculi. As such a large collection of Chinese is beyond comprehension, the intuitive force of Block’s example would be undercut. I argue that Churchland and Church land erroneously assume that every possible input-state combination in the human Turing-machine table must be assigned a homunculus. I attempt to restore the intuitive force of Block’s thought experiment by pointing to a way to simulate the human mind that does not require any such staggering number of homunculi
Keywords Functionalism  Mind  Philosophical Psychology  Block, N  Churchland, P  Homunculus
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