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Functionalism Philosophy Essay Sample 

The following essay sample will discuss the functionalism philosophy, arguments in favour of it and some theorists who are against functionalism theory.

Functionalism is a theory that determines the mental states of people. It explains that mind is not what it is made of rather what it could actually perform or do. It is developed as an alternative for the identity theory of mind and behaviourism. The mental state in this theory is realised at multiple levels also known as multiple realizability.

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Functionalism is a theory of implementation and behavioural output explaining the philosophy of mind and cognitive science. It is a philosophical theory which is related to the mental state of psychological explanation.

Action is more important than what the matter comprises of or it’s the physical, structural chemical composition. This is considered to be an important aspect of functionalism where the function is focused more than the matter itself.

Examples explaining functionalism philosophy 

  • Mousetraps are meant for putting a bait for the mouse to get trapped. It is the primary work of these mouse traps where they can be made up any metal. Even if the trap is made up of stones and crystals it must serve the same purpose.
  • Diamond is useful for cutting out glass but so many other things could do the same job. But if no diamond-cut any glass that would not stop them from being a diamond. The physical structure and composition are such that it can function in a particular way.
  • Similarly key is not just a matter of physical thing of a particular composition rather it’s a thing that can be used to perform an action. It is not it’s existence or it’s a material composition or lack of it. Rather it is what it does or suppose to do makes it a key.
  • Computers are physical devices that operate on electricity and perform work on the basis of computations and inputs and give outputs. Brains are also similar devices like a computer where inputs or information is put to produce behaviours.

Arguments in favour of functionalism theory 

  • The alternative theory of behaviour is not found to be very appropriate. Behaviourism theory believes that the psychological state is not dependant on the internal factors or state of mind. Behaving exactly like a person and having a different mindset or state of mind seems untrue. Therefore, behaviourism theory is not true.
  • Functionalism theory is found to be compatible with the brains diversity of different animals. It is found that the mammals, reptiles, molluscs have mental states with different brains but does the same function. It is a theory of mind which is compatible with multiple realizations of mental states.
  • The concept of artificial intelligence is also in favour of functionalism theory. It is a multiple mechanism theory which states that the mind works as an engineer and there is usually one way to build a mechanism.
  • Functionalism is superior to theory of behaviourism and has a positive impact on the psychology of a person. It influences the development of applied psychology and behaviour. It influences the education system of John Dewey.
  • Functionalism in social sciences and sociology is a theory that serves the various aspects of society. It includes societal norms, roles and social institutions etc. It can be useful for the long term survival of society. It also ensures conflicts reduction through social control ensuring social stability and welfare of the society.

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Theorists against the functionalism theory

  • Chinese room introduced by John Searle is a direct attack on the claim that thought can be represented as functions.
  • Twin Earth experiment by Hilary Putnam arguments against functionalism and semantic internalism.
  • Ned Block argues against the multiple realizability of functionalism where the implementation is irrelevant only the functional level is important.

He stated about functionalism that the mental state comprises of causal relations to one another and to sensory inputs and behavioural outputs. He disagrees with proper functional roles as it feels it does not allow the description of mind.

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The above essay sample discusses briefly on functionalism philosophy theory and how is it better from behaviourism theory.

Psychology, Philosophy, Sociology, Social Science, Language, Applied Psychology, Anthropology, QQI Level 5 (Psychology), Behaviour Science students can read this sample to get a clear idea and view of functionalism in different aspects.

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