University of Tasmania

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Functionalism and qualia

posted on 2023-05-27, 08:46 authored by Chan, JW-H
This thesis is an attempt to defend functionalism against the various problems concerning qualia. It consists of five chapters. Chapter I sets forth the fundamental idea of functionalism. Two formulations of functionalism are presented, and related concepts such as realization, functional equivalence and functional identity defined. Functionalism is then contrasted with behaviourism as a theory of the mind. Its relation to physicalism is subsequently examined. The question whether a functional description should be derived from folk psychological theories is finally discussed. I argue that folk psychology plays a role in the sophistication of functionalism. I do two things in chapter II. I start by giving a brief outline of the various qualia problems which I tackle in later chapters. After this, I put down a definition of the notion 'qualia'. By 'qualia' is usually meant the phenomenal qualities of bodily and perceptual experiences. These qualities are understood to be mental qualities revealed to us through introspection. I point out that to understand 'qualia' as such seems to commit the critics of functionalism to a representative or adverbial theory of perception. Chapter III contains my rebuttals of Nagel's and Jackson's arguments which aim to show that qualia are non-physical properties. I argue that their arguments are either ill-founded or ontologically benign. I conclude the chapter with -criticisms of Campbell's New Epiphenomenalism. Chapter IV deals with the inverted qualia argument. I begin with an explicit formulation of the argument, and spectrum inversion is chosen as a paradigmatic case of qualia inversion. Then I elaborate and supplement Churchland's defence of functionalism - his contention that qualia are irrelevant to the type-identities of sensory experiences. I develop my argument in the following two sections. First, basing my argument on some features of colours, I contend that it is highly unlikely to have behaviourally undetectable spectrum inversion. Secondly, I argue that even if spectrum inversion is possible, the colour experience of a spectrum-inverted person is still not functionally identical with the corresponding colour experience of an ordinary person. Chapter V is a refutation of the absent qualia argument. I maintain that functional equivalence constitutes a strong reason for the ascription of qualia. Block's reason for withholding qualia from the homunculi-headed systems he articulates is shown to be question-begging. Finally, I argue that even if we concede to Block that qualia are neurophysiological properties, functionalism can still be defended.


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Copyright 1986 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (MA)--University of Tasmania, 1987

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