The population of china as one mind

Philosophy Research Archives 9:665-74 (1983)
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Abstract

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 Dennett’s notion of “stances”. A true, adequate theory, as Block understands it, would be appropriate to Dennett’s “design” or (at best) “intentional” stance; but a genuinely true and adequate theory should instead coincide with a “personal” stance. Hence, if system S does instantiate such a theory, we must impute to it mental states, even qualitative, whether or not it “really" has them. Hence Block’s counterexample lacks force

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