About this topic
Summary Functionalism is the doctrine that all mental state/property types are individuated, not by their intrinsic constitution, but by their causal relationships with appropriate inputs (e.g. sensory stimulation) and outputs (e.g. changes to other mental states, and the production of behaviour). Qualia are the class of mental properties that seem prima facie the most resistant to any kind of functional analysis. A certain kind of pain, for example, intuitively seems to be the pain it is at least in part in virtue of how it feels (its intrinsic nature), rather than entirely because of its causal connections to other states. Thus qualia are a challenge to the adequacy of functionalism as a complete theory of the mind. The qualia challenge is often posed using arguments from inverted spectra or absent qualia.
Key works Block 1978 is a highly influential discussion of functionalism and the challenge from qualia. A representative functionalist account of qualia appears in Lycan 1996. Further discussion of the qualia issue for functionalism appears in Shoemaker 1975, Horgan 1984Hill 1991, Levin 1991 and Graham & Stephens 1985.
Introductions Van Gulick 2007, Chalmers 1995, Lycan 1981.
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  1. added 2018-06-26
    How the Brain Makes Up the Mind: A Heuristic Approach to the Hard Problem of Consciousness.Dan Bruiger - manuscript
    A solution to the “hard problem” requires taking the point of view of the organism and its sub- agents. The organism constructs phenomenality through acts of fiat, much as we create meaning in language, through the use of symbols that are assigned meaning in the context of an embodied evolutionary history. Phenomenality is a virtual representation, made to itself by an executive agent (the conscious self), which is tasked with monitoring the state of the organism and its environment, planning future (...)
  2. added 2018-02-17
    Structural Description and Qualitative Content in Perception Theory.Johannes Andres & Rainer Mausfeld - 2008 - Consciousness and Cognition 17 (1):307-311.
    The paper is a critical comment on D. Hoffman. The Scrambling Theorem: A simple proof of the logical possibility of spectrum inversion. Consciousness and Cognition, 2006, 15, 31–45.
  3. added 2018-02-17
    Cartography of the Mind: Philosophy and Psychology in Intersection.Francesco Ferretti, Massimo Marraffa & Mario De Caro (eds.) - 2007 - Springer.
  4. added 2018-02-17
    Three Laws of Qualia: What Neurology Tells Us About the Biological Functions of Consciousness.Vilayanur S. Ramachandran & William Hirstein - 1997 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 4 (5-6):429-457.
    Neurological syndromes in which consciousness seems to malfunction, such as temporal lobe epilepsy, visual scotomas, Charles Bonnet syndrome, and synesthesia offer valuable clues about the normal functions of consciousness and ‘qualia’. An investigation into these syndromes reveals, we argue, that qualia are different from other brain states in that they possess three functional characteristics, which we state in the form of ‘three laws of qualia’ based on a loose analogy with Newton's three laws of classical mechanics. First, they are irrevocable: (...)
  5. added 2018-02-17
    The Relation of Consciousness to the Material World.Max Velmans - 1995 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 2 (3):255-265.
    Within psychology and the brain sciences, the study of consciousness and its relation to human information processing is once more a focus for productive research. However, some ancient puzzles about the nature of consciousness appear to be resistant to current empirical investigations, suggesting the need for a fundamentally different approach. In Velmans I have argued that functional accounts of the mind do not `contain' consciousness within their workings. Investigations of information processing are not investigations of consciousness as such. Given this, (...)
  6. added 2018-02-16
    Philosophy as Massage: Seeking Cognitive Relief for Conscious Tension.Joseph Levine - 1999 - Philosophical Topics 26 (1/2):159-178.
  7. added 2017-12-13
    Quantum Information and Consciousness: A Gentle Introduction.Danko Georgiev - 2017 - Boca Raton: CRC Press.
    This book addresses the fascinating cross-disciplinary field of quantum information theory applied to the study of brain function. It offers a self-study guide to probe the problems of consciousness, including a concise but rigorous introduction to classical and quantum information theory, theoretical neuroscience, and philosophy of the mind. It aims to address long-standing problems related to consciousness within the framework of modern theoretical physics in a comprehensible manner that elucidates the nature of the mind-body relationship. The reader also gains an (...)
  8. added 2017-11-21
    The Explanatory Gap Account and Intelligibility of Explanation.Daniel Kostic - 2011 - Theoria: Beograd 54 (3):27-42.
  9. added 2017-10-05
    Heterophenomenology Versus Critical Phenomenology.Max Velmans - 2007 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 6 (1):221-230.
    Following an on-line dialogue with Dennett (Velmans, 2001) this paper examines the similarities and differences between heterophenomenology (HP) and critical phenomenology (CP), two competing accounts of the way that conscious phenomenology should be, and normally is incorporated into psychology and related sciences. Dennett’s heterophenomenology includes subjective reports of conscious experiences, but according to Dennett, first person conscious phenomena in the form of “qualia” such as hardness, redness, itchiness etc. have no real existence. Consequently, subjective reports about such qualia should be (...)
  10. added 2017-10-03
    La co-évolution de la matière et de la conscience.Max Velmans - 2007 - Synthesis Philosophica 22 (2):273-282.
    Les théories de l’évolution de la conscience sont étroitement liées aux théories de la distribution de la conscience qui vont des approches considérant que seulement l’homme a une conscience jusqu’aux approches considérant que toute matière possède une conscience en quelque sorte. De manière générale, on peut distinguer les théories de la discontinuité des théories de la continuité. Les théories de la discontinuité considèrent que la conscience est apparue seulement une fois que les formes matérielles ont atteint un certain degré d’évolution (...)
  11. added 2017-10-02
    Is My Unconscious Somebody Else's Consciousness?: A Review of D.Chalmers (1996) the Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory, Oxford University Press. [REVIEW]Max Velmans - 1997 - Network 64:57-60.
  12. added 2017-09-26
    A Natural Account of Phenomenal Consciousness.Max Velmans - 2001 - Communication and Cognition: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly Journal 34 (1):39-59.
    Physicalists commonly argue that conscious experiences are nothing more than states of the brain, and that conscious qualia are observer-independent, physical properties of the external world. Although this assumes the 'mantle of science,' it routinely ignores the findings of science, for example in sensory physiology, perception, psychophysics, neuropsychology and comparative psychology. Consequently, although physicalism aims to naturalise consciousness, it gives an unnatural account of it. It is possible, however, to develop a natural, nonreductive, reflexive model of how consciousness relates to (...)
  13. added 2017-09-19
    How to Define Consciousness—and How Not to Define Consciousness.Prof Max Velmans - 2009 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 16 (5):139-156.
    Definitions of consciousness need to be sufficiently broad to include all examples of conscious states and sufficiently narrow to exclude entities, events and processes that are not conscious. Unfortunately, deviations from these simple principles are common in modern consciousness studies, with consequent confusion and internal division in the field. The present paper gives example of ways in which definitions of consciousness can be either too broad or too narrow. It also discusses some of the main ways in which pre-existing theoretical (...)
  14. added 2017-09-15
    Consciousness From a First-Person Perspective.Max Velmans - 1991 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 14 (4):702-726.
    This paper replies to the first 36 commentaries on my target article on “Is human information processing conscious?” (Behavioral and Brain Sciences,1991, pp.651-669). The target article focused largely on experimental studies of how consciousness relates to human information processing, tracing their relation from input through to output, while discussion of the implications of the findings both for cognitive psychology and philosophy of mind was relatively brief. The commentaries reversed this emphasis, and so, correspondingly, did the reply. The sequence of topics (...)
  15. added 2017-09-15
    Is Human Information Processing Conscious?Max Velmans - 1991 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 14 (4):651-69.
    Investigations of the function of consciousness in human information processing have focused mainly on two questions: (1) where does consciousness enter into the information processing sequence and (2) how does conscious processing differ from preconscious and unconscious processing. Input analysis is thought to be initially "preconscious," "pre-attentive," fast, involuntary, and automatic. This is followed by "conscious," "focal-attentive" analysis which is relatively slow, voluntary, and flexible. It is thought that simple, familiar stimuli can be identified preconsciously, but conscious processing is needed (...)
  16. added 2017-03-21
    An Analytic-Hermeneutic History of Consciousness.Benj Hellie - forthcoming - In Kelly Michael Becker & Iain Thompson (eds.), Cambridge Companion to History of Philosophy 1945-2015. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
    The hermeneutic tradition divides /physical/ discourse, which takes an 'exterior' point of view in /describing/ its subject-matter, from /mental/ discourse, which takes an 'interior' point of view in /expressing/ its subject-matter: a 'metapsychological dualist' or 'metadualist' approach. The analytic tradition, in its attachment to truth-logic and consequently the 'unity of science', is 'metamonist', and thinks all discourse takes the 'exterior' viewpoint: the 'bump in the rug' moves to the disunification of mind into the functional and (big-'C') Consciousness. Assuming the hermeneuts (...)
  17. added 2017-03-16
    Why Asymmetries in Color Space Cannot Save Functionalism.Jonathan Cohen - 1999 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (6):950-950.
    Palmer's strategy of saving functionalism by constraining spectrum inversions cannot succeed because (1) there remain many nontrivial transformations not ruled out by Palmer's constraints, and (2) the constraints involved are due to the contingent makeup of our visual systems, and are therefore not available for use by functionalists.
  18. added 2017-03-10
    Explaining the Qualitative Dimension of Consciousness: Prescission Instead of Reification: Dialogue.Marc Champagne - 2009 - Dialogue 48 (1):145-183.
    This paper suggests that it is largely a want of notional distinctions which fosters the “explanatory gap” that has beset the study of consciousness since T. Nagel’s revival of the topic. Modifying Ned Block’s controversial claim that we should countenance a “phenomenal-consciousness” which exists in its own right, we argue that there is a way to recuperate the intuitions he appeals to without engaging in an onerous reification of the facet in question. By renewing with the full type/token/tone trichotomy developed (...)
  19. added 2017-02-15
    Why Sensations Must Be Neurological Properties: A Defense of the Identity Theory.Nicholas Keith Simmons - unknown
    In this dissertation, I defend the thesis that qualitative mental states known as qualia are identical to physical properties. In Chapter 1, I argue that qualia have a functional role in the world, and that is to facilitate non-automatic mental processes. In Chapter 2, I demonstrate how non-reductive accounts of the mind fail. In Chapter 3, I demonstrate how my reductive account fares better than similar accounts with respect to common and contemporary objections. In Chapter 4, I address arguments against (...)
  20. added 2017-02-14
    Humphreys Solution.Natika Newton - 2000 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 7 (4):62-66.
    [opening paragraph]: It is easy to conceptualize a problem in a way that prevents a solution. If the conceptualization is entrenched in one's culture or profession, it may appear unalterable. But there is so much precedent for the discovery of fruitful reconceptualizations that in the case of most philosophical and scientific puzzles it is probably irrational ever to give up trying. The notion of qualia, understood as phenomenal properties of sensations that can exist as objects of experience for a conscious (...)
  21. added 2017-02-13
    Epistemology, Two Types of Functionalism, and First-Person Authority.Alvin I. Goldman - 1995 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 18 (2):395.
  22. added 2017-02-13
    Functionalism, the Theory-Theory and Phenomenology.Alvin I. Goldman - 1993 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 16 (1):101.
  23. added 2017-02-13
    Functionalism Can Explain Self-Ascription.Brian Loar - 1993 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 16 (1):58.
  24. added 2017-02-12
    La Cuestión de Los "Qualia".Javier Vidal López - 1995 - Anuario Filosófico 28 (2):425-442.
    Jackson has ellaborated an argument to show that our experiences or qualitative states gather information which cannot be obtained in any other way. Functionalists reject in many ways that experience may bring new information. The point of this paper is to argue that, if func-tionalism is right, if experiences or "qualia" are not informative, then functionalism cannot report about them. The functionalist criticism of Jackson's argument makes it impossible for any functionalist theory to know experience.
  25. added 2017-02-11
    The Possibility of Absent Qualia, Earl Conee.Nominalist Platonism - 1985 - Philosophical Review 94 (3).
  26. added 2017-02-10
    On the Supposed Inconceivability of Absent Qualia Functional Duplicates--A Reply to Tye.Robert van Gulick - 2012 - Philosophical Review 121 (2):277-284.
    In “Absent Qualia and the Mind-Body Problem,” Michael Tye (2006) presents an argument by which he claims to show the inconceivability of beings that are functionally equivalent to phenomenally conscious beings but lack any qualia. On that basis, he concludes that qualia can be fully defined in functional terms. The argument does not suffice to establish the claimed results. In particular it does not show that such absent qualia cases are inconceivable. Tye’s argument relies on a principle P according to (...)
  27. added 2017-02-09
    Review: Response to Shoemaker. [REVIEW]Michael Thau - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 132 (3):637 - 659.
  28. added 2017-01-29
    Functionalism, Artificial Intelligence, and the Problem of Subjectivity.Steven Jay Mandelker - 1990 - Dissertation, Columbia University
    I examine the computational functionalist account of mental states presupposed in the field of artificial intelligence , paying particular attention to their inherently subjective character. I begin by discussing the differences between computational functionalism and other forms of functionalism. In Chapter II, I critically examine several criteria proposed by AI researchers for determining when mental states can be attributed to a computer. I then defend John Searle's "Chinese Room" argument against computational functionalism by arguing that an intentional system must be (...)
  29. added 2017-01-29
    Functionalism and the Content of Experience.Henry Owen Jacoby - 1983 - Dissertation, University of Southern California
    The contemporary mind-body problem can be seen as a challenge for materialism to provide an account of what I call mental content. The contents of mental states are properties of one of two sorts: intentional or qualitative. The latter of these is the focus of this work, as I provide and defend a functionalist account of "qualia." ;In the first chapter, I defend materialism in two ways. First, I explain its overall plausibility; second, I expose the insuperable difficulties with several (...)
  30. added 2017-01-28
    Functionalism and Qualia.Kalevi Lehto - 2003 - Dissertation, Bowling Green State University
    Functionalism about qualia is the view that qualia---the qualitative character---of a mental state are determined by functional organization. The dissertation argues for weak functionalism about qualia, a view that is distinguished from strong functionalism about qualia. While strong functionalism claims that qualia are determined by functional organization alone, weak functionalism leaves open the possibility that the occurrence of mental states with qualia depends partly on nonfunctional properties such as specific physical properties or nonphysical properties. The difference between strong functionalism and (...)
  31. added 2017-01-28
    Analytic Functionalism and the Qualia Objection.Reinaldo Pablo Elugardo - 1980 - Dissertation, The University of Western Ontario (Canada)
    The aim of this dissertation is to rebut a formidable objection to all fuctionalist theories of the mental. The objection is widely known as "the Qualia Objection." It contends that functionalism is false because it cannot give an adequate account of the non-conceptual, non-cognitive, phenomen.
  32. added 2017-01-26
    Functionalism and Qualia.Živan Lazović - 2006 - Theoria 49 (3):7-26.
  33. added 2017-01-26
    Philosophical Functionalism: A Reply to Double.Andrew Ward - 1989 - Behaviorism 17 (2):155-158.
    In his recent article "The Computational Model of the Mind and Philosophical Functionalism," Richard Double argues that there are some fairly forceful a priori arguments showing that Philosophical Functionalism cannot provide adequate explanations for phenomenal states, the nonphenomenal conscious states of common sense, and the theoretical states of cognitive psychology and linquistics. In this paper it is argued that none of Double's arguments are successful.
  34. added 2017-01-25
    Overlooking the Resources of Functionalism?ZoltÁ Jakab & N. - 1999 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (6):957-957.
  35. added 2017-01-25
    Analytic Functionalism Without Representational Functionalism.Terence Horgan - 1993 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 16 (1):51.
  36. added 2017-01-25
    Qualitative Characteristics, Type Materialism and the Circularity of Analytic Functionalism.Christopher S. Hill - 1993 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 16 (1):50.
  37. added 2017-01-25
    Welcome to Functionalism.Elizabeth Bates & Brian MacWhinney - 1990 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 13 (4):727-728.
  38. added 2017-01-22
    Review: The Contributions of Functionalism. [REVIEW]Nancy K. Innis - 1994 - Behavior and Philosophy 22 (1):71 - 73.
  39. added 2017-01-20
    Process Based Functionalism Instead of Structural Functionalism is Needed.Endre E. Kadar & M. T. Turvey - 1997 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 20 (3):533-533.
    Latash & Anson's intention to describe only the regularities of motor behavior is compromised by the homunculus paradigm. Although we concur on the need to redefine in atypical populations, we contend that this enterprise requires a process based functionalism. We argue for accommodating movement control and perceptual processes with physical and task constraints in a natural setting.
  40. added 2017-01-18
    Functionalism and Mental Boundaries.Larry Shapiro - unknown - Cognitive Systems Research 9 (1-2).
  41. added 2017-01-18
    Lewis's Functionalism and Reductive Materialism.Andrew Kernohan - 1990 - Philosophical Psychology 3 (2 & 3):235-46.
  42. added 2017-01-17
    A Closer Look at the Chinese Nation Argument.Erdinç Sayan - 1987 - Philosophy Research Archives 13:129-136.
    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 (...)
  43. added 2017-01-16
    Recognitional Identification and the Knowledge Argument.Erhan Demircioglu - 2015 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 15 (3):325-340.
    Frank Jackson’s famous Knowledge Argument moves from the premise that complete physical knowledge about experiences is not complete knowledge about experiences to the falsity of physicalism. Some physicalists (e.g., John Perry) have countered by arguing that what Jackson’s Mary, the perfect scientist who acquires all physical knowledge about experiencing red while being locked in a monochromatic room, lacks before experiencing red is merely a piece of recognitional knowledge of an identity, and that since lacking a piece of recognitional knowledge of (...)
  44. added 2017-01-16
    "Functionalism" in Perception.W. C. H. Prentice - 1956 - Psychological Review 63 (1):29-38.
  45. added 2017-01-15
    Functionalism, Computationalism, and Mental States.Gualtiero Piccinini - 2004 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 35 (4):811-833.
  46. added 2016-12-12
    Sensations: A Defense of Type Materialism.Christopher S. Hill - 1991 - Cambridge University Press.
    This is a book about sensory states and their apparent characteristics. It confronts a whole series of metaphysical and epistemological questions and presents an argument for type materialism: the view that sensory states are identical with the neural states with which they are correlated. According to type materialism, sensations are only possessed by human beings and members of related biological species; silicon-based androids cannot have sensations. The author rebuts several other rival theories, and explores a number of important issues: the (...)
  47. added 2016-12-08
    The Case for Qualia.Edmond L. Wright (ed.) - 2008 - MIT Press.
  48. added 2016-12-08
    Qualia Realism.Amy Kind - 2001 - Philosophical Studies 104 (2):143 - 162.
  49. added 2016-12-05
    Overlooking the Resources of Functionalism? ZoltÁ & N. Jakab - 1999 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (6):957-957.
    Although the author's critical view of functionalism has a considerable intuitive pull, his argument based on the color room scenario does not work. Functionalism and other relational views of the mind are capable of providing coherent accounts of conscious experience that meet the challenge set up by the “color room argument.” A simple example of such an account is presented.
  50. added 2016-10-22
    Review of Philosophy in a New Century by John Searle (2008).Michael Starks - 2017 - Philosophy, Human Nature and the Collapse of Civilization Michael Starks 3rd Ed. (2017).
    Before commenting on the book, I offer comments on Wittgenstein and Searle and the logical structure of rationality. The essays here are mostly already published during the last decade (though some have been updated), along with one unpublished item, and nothing here will come as a surprise to those who have kept up with his work. Like W, he is regarded as the best standup philosopher of his time and his written work is solid as a rock and groundbreaking throughout. (...)
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