Thomas Nagel's Functionalism

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Similarly, Thomas Nagel also criticizes functionalism for its lack of accounting for qualia. Nagel argues that functionalism is invalid in asserting that the mind is a computer program and that the body is what runs the program. As mentioned earlier, functionalism reduces mental states to computational states, composed of inputs, outputs and other computational states. Nagel argues that it is incorrect to make this assumption because in order for an organism to be reduced to another thing, there can’t be the case that the reduction totally disregards what it is like to be that organism. Nagel makes his argument by considering the definitions of subjective and objective facts. Subjective facts are facts that can be only known by creatures who …show more content…

Nagel capitalizes upon this observation by describing the experience bats have by using echolocation. If one is familiar with bats, it is a fact that bats experience the world through echolocation. Their brains are able to discriminate against objects by analyzing the impulses that it receives from the sonar waves that it releases. It is able to know the distance of things, the size, the shape, and the texture. Given these things, Nagel argues that though humans are able to understand the function of how bats echolocate, they would never be able to echolocate the same way that a bat does because they don’t have the capacity to know what it is like for a bat to echolocate. They only way that that would be possible is for humans to become the same species as bats. Nagel argues that functionalism also makes this mistake. People aren’t the equivalent of computers because that leaves out the aspect of what it is actually like to be human. Computers could never do such a thing, thus according to Nagel mental states are not equal to functional

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