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The Conscious Brain$
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Jesse Prinz

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780195314595

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195314595.001.0001

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What Is Consciousness? Neurofunctionalism

What Is Consciousness? Neurofunctionalism

(p.272) 9 What Is Consciousness? Neurofunctionalism
The Conscious Brain

Jesse J. Prinz

Oxford University Press

Physicalists have traditionally offered two different responses to the mind-body problem. Some endorse the psychophysical identity theory, and some endorse functionalism. These two approaches are often thought to be competitors, and they are each backed by well-known arguments. This chapter argues that those arguments are less compelling than often assumed. For example, functionalist claim that mental states are multiply realizable, but the evidence often relies on elaborate though experiments, rather than empirical evidence. Functionalism and the identity theory both have advantages and disadvantages. The optimal form of physicalism would integrate these two approaches by defining mental states as mechanisms that have identity conditions at more than one level—an approach called neurofuncitonalism. This approach is defended and explicated using the AIR theory, which has both a psychological characterization and a neural implementation, which are highly interdependent.

Keywords:   functionalism, the psychophysical identity theory, neuofunctionalism, levels of analysis, reduction, physicalism

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