Functionalism and Physicalism

Functionalism and Physicalism :

While acquiring knowledge on the topics of Functionalism and Physicalism, I ran across many disagreements between the two. Interestingly, those disagreements gave me an impression of different sides arguing with their own support from their own theories. As if an Arabian and a Roman were arguing about whether the number eleven is an Arabic number or a Roman number. Though, as I read more and more of the readings (especially Putnam's), I started to see a pattern that led me to think that maybe Functionalism is compatible with Physicalism after all; that these two theories can coexist.

The claim above is based on the information gathered in the two readings assigned and therefore, I should go step by step in order to arrive at my conclusion that they can indeed coexist. First, I draw Ned Block's elaboration on Metaphysical Functionalism as a start of my argument. As Block suggests, Metaphysical Functionalism is mainly concern about what mental states are…instead of a psychological explanation. Moreover, they concern themselves with mental state type…not a specific token of the type. As in the case of pain, they are concerned with a mental state called pain, and not of particular pains (stomach-ache, pin-pricks). But, according to Putnam, if the Physicalists do indeed attributes the name physical states to the enormous number of mental states we humans have, then, I think it would be impossible for them to be concerned only with the type and not the tokens. But once they started to consider each specific pain (token), they will have to ascribe a different physical-chemical state to each token-state. Ultimately, the common thing to all pains in virtue of which they are pains cannot be put in terms of a single physical state. Recall that the same problem does not exist in the consideration of Functionalism because Functionalism concerns itself basically with the causal relations between these tokens and not a particular one.

Therefore, the common thing that exists in Functionalism to all pains in virtue of which they are pains is actually the function or the functional state that account for all mental states type and not a particular mental state token. Therefore I conclude by suggesting that the disagreement (or the incompatibility) between the two theories is actually a misunderstanding on each side on their scope on studies. And while they do not conflict each other in the same scope, I grant them their coexistence. (At least this is what I can dig up in the readings!)

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