On Wed, Apr 3, 2013 at 2:42 PM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com>wrote:

> In a universe of functionalism or comp, I would expect that this would
> never happen, as my brain should always prioritize the information made
> available by any eye that is open over that of an eye which is closed.

I don't think the "function" in functionalism is supposed to refer to
utility or purpose. Functionalism as I understand it just refers to the
idea that if you replaced each part of the brain with a "functionally
identical" part, meaning that its input/output relationship is the same as
the original part, then this will result in no change in conscious
experience, regardless of the material details of how the part produces
this input/output relation (a miniature version of the "Chinese room"
thought experiment could work, for example). It's also self-evident that
there should be no behavioral change, *if* we assume the reductionist idea
that the large-scale behavior of any physical system is determined by the
rules governing the behavior and interactions of each of its component
parts (you would probably dispute this, but the point is just that this
seems to be one of the assumptions of 'functionalism', and of course almost
all modern scientific theories of systems composed of multiple parts work
with this assumption).

For example, if you have a tumor which is altering your consciousness and
disrupting some other abilities like speech, that is obviously not serving
any useful function, but "functionalism" wouldn't claim it should, it would
just say that if you replaced the tumor with an artificial device that
affected the surrounding neurons in exactly the same way, the affected
patient wouldn't notice any subjective difference (likewise with more
useful parts of the brain, of course).

There may of course be different meanings that philosophers have assigned
to the term "functionalism", but I think this is one, and I'm pretty sure
it's part of what "COMP" is taken to mean on this list.


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