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What Is Functionalism

Philosophy : Philosophy Definitions

An intriguing theory, one of those which may become more appealing the more you study it, depending on your mind set.

This theory states that mental states are defined by their causes and effects.

To flesh this out, under this theory what makes an inner state *mental* is not an intrinsic property of the state, but rather its *relation* to inputs and outputs.

A pain is not a mental state because of some intrinsic quality it possesses, but rather because it can be defined in terms of a cause like a pinprick, and an effect (output) such as screaming 'ouch!'

By: Dan on Tue, Mar 15th 2005

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