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. Yet Another Objection to Fading and Dancing Qualia.Nir Aides - manuscript
    In this paper I present objections to the Fading Qualia and Dancing Qualia thought experiments, which David Chalmers uses to argue that functional organization fully determines conscious experience.
  2. Structural Description and Qualitative Content in Perception Theory.Johannes Andres & Rainer Mausfeld - 2008 - Consciousness & 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. Against Functionalist Theories of Consciousness.Michael V. Antony - 1994 - Mind and Language 9 (2):105-23.
    The paper contains an argument against functionalist theories of consciousness. The argument exploits an intuition to the effect that parts of an individual's brain that are not in use at a time t, can have no bearing on whether that individual is conscious at t. After presenting the argument, I defend it against two possible objections, and then distinguish it from two arguments to which it appears, on the surface to be similar.
  4. Toward a Well-Innervated Philosophy of Mind (Chapter 4 of The Peripheral Mind).István Aranyosi - forthcoming - Oxford University Press.
    The “brain in a vat” thought experiment is presented and refuted by appeal to the intuitiveness of what the author informally calls “the eye for an eye principle”, namely: Conscious mental states typically involved in sensory processes can conceivably successfully be brought about by direct stimulation of the brain, and in all such cases the utilized stimulus field will be in the relevant sense equivalent to the actual PNS or part of it thereof. In the second section, four classic problems (...)
  5. Qualia, Consciousness, and Memory: Dennett , Rosenthal , Ledoux , and Libet.Jay David Atlas - unknown
    In his recent book "Sweet Dreams: philosophical obstacles to a science of consciousness," Dennett renews his attack on a philosophical notion of qualia, the success of which attack is required if his brand of Functionalism is to survive. He also articulates once again what he takes to be essential to his notion of consciousness. I shall argue that his new, central argument against the philosophical concept of qualia fails. In passing I point out a difficulty that David Rosenthal's "higher-order thought" (...)
  6. Functionalism, the Absent Qualia Objection, and Eliminativism.Edward W. Averill - 1990 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 28 (4):449-67.
  7. A Contemporary Account of Sensory Pleasure.Murat Aydede - forthcoming - In Lisa Shapiro (ed.), Pleasure: A History. Oxford University Press.
    [This is the penultimate version, please send me an email for the final version]. Some sensations are pleasant, some unpleasant, and some are neither. Furthermore, those that are pleasant or unpleasant are so to different degrees. In this essay, I want to explore what kind of a difference is the difference between these three kinds of sensations. I will develop a comprehensive three-level account of sensory pleasure that is simultaneously adverbialist, functionalist and is also a version of a satisfied experiential-desire (...)
  8. Reasons and Theories of Sensory Affect.Murat Aydede & Matthew Fulkerson - forthcoming - In David Bain, Michael Brady & Jennifer Corns (eds.), The Nature of Pain.
    Some sensory experiences are pleasant, some unpleasant. This is a truism. But understanding what makes these experiences pleasant and unpleasant is not an easy job. Various difficulties and puzzles arise as soon as we start theorizing. There are various philosophical theories on offer that seem to give different accounts for the positive or negative affective valences of sensory experiences. In this paper, we will look at the current state of art in the philosophy of mind, present the main contenders, critically (...)
  9. Multiple Realizability, Qualia, and Natural Kinds.Andrew R. Bailey - manuscript
    Are qualia natural kinds? In order to give this question slightly more focus, and to show why it might be an interesting question, let me begin by saying a little about what I take qualia to be, and what natural kinds. For the purposes of this paper, I shall be assuming a fairly full-blooded kind of phenomenal realism about qualia: qualia, thus, include the qualitative painfulness of pain (rather than merely the functional specification of pain states), the qualitative redness in (...)
  10. Welcome to Functionalism.Elizabeth Bates & Brian MacWhinney - 1990 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 13 (4):727-728.
  11. Visual Information Processing and Phenomenal Consciousness.Ansgar Beckermann - 1995 - In Thomas Metzinger (ed.), Conscious Experience. Ferdinand Schoningh.
    As far as an adequate understanding of phenomenal consciousness is concerned, representationalist theories of mind which are modelled on the information processing paradigm, are, as much as corresponding neurobiological or functionalist theories, confronted with a series of arguments based on inverted or absent qualia considerations. These considerations display the following pattern: assuming we had complete knowledge about the neural and functional states which subserve the occurrence of phenomenal consciousness, would it not still be conceivable that these neural states (or states (...)
  12. Re-Acquaintance with Qualia.John C. Bigelow & Robert Pargetter - 2006 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 84 (3):353 – 378.
    Frank Jackson argued, in an astronomically frequently cited paper on 'Epiphenomenal qualia '[Jackson 1982 that materialism must be mistaken. His argument is called the knowledge argument. Over the years since he published that paper, he gradually came to the conviction that the conclusion of the knowledge argument must be mistaken. Yet he long remained totally unconvinced by any of the very numerous published attempts to explain where his knowledge argument had gone astray. Eventually, Jackson did publish a diagnosis of the (...)
  13. Color, Qualia, and Psychophysical Constraints on Equivalence of Color Experience.Vincent A. Billock & Brian H. Tsou - 2004 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 27 (1):164-165.
    It has been suggested that difficult-to-quantify differences in visual processing may prevent researchers from equating the color experience of different observers. However, spectral locations of unique hues are remarkably invariant with respect to everything other than gross differences in preretinal and photoreceptor absorptions. This suggests a stereotyping of neural color processing and leads us to posit that minor differences in observer neurophysiology may be irrelevant to color experience.
  14. Consciousness and Cognitive Access.Ned Block - 2008 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 108 (1pt3):289-317.
    This article concerns the interplay between two issues that involve both philosophy and neuroscience: whether the content of phenomenal consciousness is 'rich' or 'sparse', whether phenomenal consciousness goes beyond cognitive access, and how it would be possible for there to be evidence one way or the other.
  15. Troubles with Functionalism.Ned Block - 1978 - Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science 9:261-325.
    The functionalist view of the nature of the mind is now widely accepted. Like behaviorism and physicalism, functionalism seeks to answer the question "What are mental states?" I shall be concerned with identity thesis formulations of functionalism. They say, for example, that pain is a functional state, just as identity thesis formulations of physicalism say that pain is a physical state.
  16. What Psychological States Are Not.Ned Block & Jerry A. Fodor - 1972 - Philosophical Review 81 (April):159-81.
  17. Qualia and Analytical Conditionals.David Braddon-Mitchell - 2003 - Journal of Philosophy 100 (3):111-135.
  18. Scaling the Metaphorical Brick Wall.Michael Bradie - 1999 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (6):947-948.
    Palmer argues that functionalist accounts of the mind are radically incomplete in virtue of a “metaphorical brick wall” that precludes a complete treatment of qualia. I argue that functionalists should remain unmoved by this line of argument to the effect that their accounts fail to do justice to some “intrinsic” features of experience.
  19. Functionalism and Sensations.Mark T. Brown - 1983 - Auslegung 10:218-28.
  20. Phenomenal Consciousness Disembodied.Wesley Buckwalter & Mark Phelan - 2014 - In Justin Sytsma (ed.), Advances in Experimental Philosophy of Mind. Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 45-74.
    We evaluate the role of embodiment in ordinary mental state ascriptions. Presented are five experiments on phenomenal state ascriptions to disembodied entities such as ghosts and spirits. Results suggest that biological embodiment is not a central principle of folk psychology guiding ascriptions of phenomenal consciousness. By contrast, results continue to support the important role of functional considerations in theory of mind judgments.
  21. Qualia and Intentional Content: Reply to Block.Tyler Burge - 2003 - In Martin Hahn & B. Ramberg (eds.), Reflections and Replies: Essays on the Philosophy of Tyler Burge. MIT Press. pp. 405--415.
  22. Philosophy of Mind.Stephen Burwood - 1999 - Mcgill-Queen's University Press.
    Machine generated contents note: 1 The Cartesian legacy -- The dominant paradigm -- Cartesian dualism -- The secret life of the body -- The Cartesian theatre -- The domain of reason -- The causal relevance of the mind -- Conclusion -- Further reading --2 Reductionism and the road to functionalism -- Causation, scientific realism, and physicalism -- Reductionism and central state materialism -- Problems with central state materialism -- Modified ontological physicalism: supervenience -- Modified explanatory physicalism: the disunity of -- (...)
  23. Qualia Ain't in the Head.Alex Byrne & Michael Tye - 2006 - Noûs 40 (2):241-255.
    Qualia internalism is the thesis that qualia are intrinsic to their subjects: the experiences of intrinsic duplicates have the same qualia. Content externalism is the thesis that mental representation is an extrinsic matter, partly depending on what happens outside the head. 1 Intentionalism comes in strong and weak forms. In its weakest formulation, it is the thesis that representationally identical experiences of subjects have the same qualia. 2.
  24. Generalizing Qualia Inversion.Neil Campbell - 2004 - Erkenntnis 60 (1):27-34.
    Philosophers who advocate the possibility of spectrum inversion often conclude that the qualitative content of experiential states pose a serious problem for functionalism. I argue that in order for the inversion hypothesis to support this conclusion one needs to show that it generalizes to all species of qualia. By examining features of touch, taste, and olfactory sensations, I show there is good reason to resist this generalization, in which case appeals to the possibility of spectral inversion are considerably less effective (...)
  25. The Population of China as One Mind.Lawrence Richard Carleton - 1983 - Philosophy Research Archives 9:665-74.
    A chronic difficulty for functionalism is the problem of instantiations of a functionalist theory of mind which seem to lack some or all of the mental states--especially qualitative--we want to attribute to minds the theory describes. Here I discuss one such counterexample, Block’s system S, consisting of the population of China organized to simulate a single mind as described by some true, adequate, psychofunctionalist theory. I then defend a version of functionalism against this example, in part by an adaptation of (...)
  26. Still Epiphenomenal Qualia: Response to Muller.Dan Cavedon-Taylor - 2009 - Philosophia 37 (1):105-107.
    Hans Muller has recently attempted to show that Frank Jackson cannot assert the existence of qualia without thereby falsifying himself on the matter of such mental states being epiphenomenal with respect to the physical world. I argue that Muller misunderstands the commitments of qualia epiphenomenalism and that, as a result, his arguments against Jackson do not go through.
  27. Absent Qualia, Fading Qualia, Dancing Qualia.David J. Chalmers - 1995 - In Thomas Metzinger (ed.), Conscious Experience. Ferdinand Schoningh. pp. 309--328.
    It is widely accepted that conscious experience has a physical basis. That is, the properties of experience (phenomenal properties, or qualia) systematically depend on physical properties according to some lawful relation. There are two key questions about this relation. The first concerns the strength of the laws: are they logically or metaphysically necessary, so that consciousness is nothing "over and above" the underlying physical process, or are they merely contingent laws like the law of gravity? This question about the strength (...)
  28. Self-Ascription Without Qualia: A Case-Study.David J. Chalmers - 1993 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 16 (1):35-36.
    In Section 5 of his interesting article, Goldman suggests that the consideration of imaginary cases can be valuable in the analysis of our psychological concepts. In particular, he argues that we can imagine a system that is isomorphic to us under any functional description, but which lacks qualitative mental states, such as pains and color sensations. Whether or not such a being is empirically possible, it certainly seems to be logically possible, or conceptually coherent. Goldman argues from this possibility to (...)
  29. 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 (...)
  30. A Neurocomputational Perspective: The Nature of Mind and the Structure of Science.Paul M. Churchland - 1989 - MIT Press.
    A Neurocomputationial Perspective illustrates the fertility of the concepts and data drawn from the study of the brain and of artificial networks that model the...
  31. Reduction, Qualia and the Direct Introspection of Brain States.Paul M. Churchland - 1985 - Journal of Philosophy 82 (January):8-28.
  32. Functionalism, Qualia and Intentionality.Paul M. Churchland & Patricia S. Churchland - 1981 - Philosophical Topics 12 (1):121-32.
  33. Functionalism, Qualia, and Intentionality.Paul M. Churchland & Patricia Smith Churchland - 1981 - Philosophical Topics 12 (1):121-145.
  34. A Case Where Access Implies Qualia?Andy Clark - 2000 - Analysis 60 (1):30-37.
    Block (1995) famously warns against the confusion of.
  35. Spectrum Inversion and the Color Solid.Austen Clark - 1985 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 23 (4):431-43.
    The possibility that what looks red to me may look green to you has traditionally been known as "spectrum inversion." This possibility is thought to create difficulties for any attempt to define mental states in terms of behavioral dispositions or functional roles. If spectrum inversion is possible, then it seems that two perceptual states may have identical functional antecedents and effects yet differ in their qualitative content. In that case the qualitative character of the states could not be functionally defined.
  36. 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.
  37. Inverted Spectrum Arguments.David J. Cole - manuscript
    Formerly a spectral apparition that haunted behaviorism and provided a puzzle about our knowledge of other minds, the inverted spectrum possibility has emerged as an important challenge to functionalist accounts of qualia. The inverted spectrum hypothesis raises the possibility that two individuals might think and behave in the same way yet have different qualia. The traditional supposition is of an individual who has a subjective color spectrum that is inverted with regard to that had by other individuals. When he looks (...)
  38. Thought and Qualia.David J. Cole - 1994 - Minds and Machines 4 (3):283-302.
    I present a theory of the nature and basis of the conscious experience characteristic of occurent propositional attitudes: thinking this or that. As a preliminary I offer an extended criticism of Paul Schweizer's treatment of such consciousness as unexplained secondary qualities of neural events. I also attempt to rebut arguments against the possibility of functionalist accounts of conscious experience and qualia.
  39. Functionalism and Inverted Spectra.David J. Cole - 1990 - Synthese 82 (2):207-22.
    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 (...)
  40. To Express or Suppress May Be Function of Others' Distress.Geert Crombez & Chris Eccleston - 2002 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (4):457-458.
    We argue that pain behaviour cannot be wholly accounted for within the operant model of Fordyce (1976). Many pain behaviours, including facial expression, are not socially reinforced but are evolutionarily predetermined. We urge researchers to take into consideration other learning accounts. Building on the idea that pain sufferers learn to suppress the expression of pain, we begin the development of a framework for a relational understanding of pain complaint.
  41. Capturing Qualia: Higher-Order Concepts and Connectionism.Bryon Cunningham - 2001 - Philosophical Psychology 14 (1):29-41.
    Antireductionist philosophers have argued for higher-order classifications of qualia that locate consciousness outside the scope of conventional scientific explanations, viz., by classifying qualia as intrinsic, basic, or subjective properties, antireductionists distinguish qualia from extrinsic, complex, and objective properties, and thereby distinguish conscious mental states from the possible explananda of functionalist or physicalist explanations. I argue that, in important respects, qualia are intrinsic, basic, and subjective properties of conscious mental states, and that, contrary to antireductionists' suggestions, these higher-order classifications are compatible (...)
  42. Functionalism and Absent Qualia.Lawrence H. Davis - 1982 - Philosophical Studies 41 (March):231-49.
  43. Cartographies of the Mind: Philosophy and Psychology in Intersection.Mario de Caro, Francesco Ferretti & Massimo Marraffa (eds.) - 2007 - Kleuwer.
  44. Cartographies of the Mind: Philosophy and Psychology in Intersection , Series: Studies in Brain and Mind, Vol. 4.Mario de Caro, Francesco Ferretti & Massimo Marraffa (eds.) - 2007 - Kleuwer.
  45. 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 (...)
  46. Review of Varela, E. Thompson and E. Rosch, (Eds. )The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience. [REVIEW]Daniel Dennett - 1993 - Philosophical Explorations.
    Cognitive science, as an interdisciplinary school of thought, may have recently moved beyond the bandwagon stage onto the throne of orthodoxy, but it does not make a favorable first impression on many people. Familiar reactions on first encounters range from revulsion to condescending dismissal--very few faces in the crowd light up with the sense of "Aha! So that's how the mind works! Of course!" Cognitive science leaves something out, it seems; moreover, what it apparently leaves out is important, even precious. (...)
  47. Review of Varela, "Review of F. Varela, E. Thompson and E. Rosch, The Embodied Mind ," American Journal of Psychology, 106, 121-6, 1993. [REVIEW]Daniel C. Dennett - unknown
    Cognitive science, as an interdisciplinary school of thought, may have recently moved beyond the bandwagon stage onto the throne of orthodoxy, but it does not make a favorable first impression on many people. Familiar reactions on first encounters range from revulsion to condescending dismissal--very few faces in the crowd light up with the sense of "Aha! So that's how the mind works! Of course!" Cognitive science leaves something out , it seems; moreover, what it apparently leaves out is important, even (...)
  48. "Epiphenomenal" Qualia?Daniel C. Dennett - 1991 - In Yujin Nagasawa, Peter Ludlow & Daniel Stoljar (eds.), There's something about Mary: essays on phenomenal consciousness and Frank Jackson's knowledge argument. Little, Brown. pp. 127-136.
  49. Functionalism and Absent Qualia.G. Doore - 1981 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 59 (March):387-402.
  50. Phenomenal Externalism, or If Meanings Ain't in the Head, Where Are Qualia?Fred Dretske - 1996 - Philosophical Issues 7:143-158.
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