Implementable in functional system
Properly organized functional states generate consciousness. Such organization exists in the brain and can be built into computers as well.
Conscious mental states, like internal states, are best understood as states with chracteristic functional roles; similarly a mousetrap is really a mousetrap because of the function it serves, not because of any particular material, shape, or parts it might have.

Postulates Of Functionalism

1) A mental state is a functional state.

2) A functional state consists of causal imputs, causal outputs, and causal relationships to the other functional states.

3) A functional state is purely formal, abstract, and relational (see sidebar, "Formal systems: an overview" on Map 7).

4) So, functional states can be realised in multiple physical media. This is called multiple realisability (see the "Is the brain a computer?" arguments on Map 1).

5) So, we can study the mind without studying the brain.

Proponents on these maps include: David Chalmers, Jerry Fodor, John McCarthy, Brian McLaughlin, Zenon Pylyshyn and Hilary Putnam.


  • This is a general description of functionalism many more specific versions have been articulated in the context of psychology, philosophy of mind, any eye, and connectionism.
  • Arguments about functionalism pervade Maps 3 and 4, and are prominent on Map 5.
Artificial Intelligence Â»Artificial Intelligence
Can computers think? [1] Â»Can computers think? [1]
No: computers can't be conscious [6] Â»No: computers can't be conscious [6]
Implementable in functional system
Computationalism Â»Computationalism
Consciousness is multiply realisable Â»Consciousness is multiply realisable
Machine-state functionalism Â»Machine-state functionalism
The fading qualia thought experiment Â»The fading qualia thought experiment
Consciousness is information bearing medium Â»Consciousness is information bearing medium
No: computers can't understand images [5b] Â»No: computers can't understand images [5b]
Yes: physical symbol systems can think [3] Â»Yes: physical symbol systems can think [3]
Yes: connectionist networks can think [5a] Â»Yes: connectionist networks can think [5a]
David Chalmers Â»David Chalmers
Jerry Fodor Â»Jerry Fodor
Zenon Pylyshyn Â»Zenon Pylyshyn
Hilary Putnam Â»Hilary Putnam
+Comments (0)
+Citations (0)