Functionalism's response to the problem of absent qualia: more discussion of zombies
Abstract:It seems that we could be physically the same as we are now, only we would lack conscious awareness. If so, then nothing about our physical world is necessary for qualitative experience. However, a proper analysis of psychological functionalism eliminates this problem concerning the possibility of zombies. ‘Friends of absent qualia’ rely on an overly simple view of what counts as a functional analysis and of the function/structure distinction. The level of thought is not the only level at which one might perform a functional analysis; all that is required for some description of a state to be functional is that it be defined in terms of its causal relations. Insofar as functionalism is not restricted to a higher level of analysis (hence, any causal interaction could conceivably be found in a functional description), then successful theories of consciousness should include whatever it is that makes those states have a qualitative character.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061-0126, USA.
Publication date: 1996-04-01