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Philosophy of Mind .Info

Substance Dualism

Property Dualism

Substance Monism

Mind-Body Interaction

Personal Identity

Glossary

Philosophy of Mind

Substance Monism

Materialism

Behaviourism

Functionalism

Mind-Brain Identity Theory

Eliminative Materialism

Materialism

Materialism or “physicalism” hold that the universe contains only physical or material entities: physical. The main challenge for materialists is that of offering a plausible account of mind in purely physical terms. Materialists must propose some reductive analysis of mind, some purely physical explanation of mental states.

One theory that attempts to do this is behaviourism. Behaviourism attempts to reduce mental states to facts about behaviour or behavioural dispositions. This theory has now fallen out of favour.

A more sophisticated materialist theory is functionalism. Functionalists identify particular mental states with particular functional roles. Any state that plays the appropriate functional role counts as a mental state. This allows for the possibility of minds being realised in very different types of substance, including artificial intelligence.

When looking for some physical state that might be identified as a mental state, most modern materialists will look to states of the brain. This leads to mind-brain identity theory, the idea that mind and brain are one and the same thing.

Those who take materialism seriously sometimes object that our vocabulary for talking about the mind embodies false dualist folk-psychology, and so is bound to mislead us. Eliminative materialism is the linguistic thesis that we ought to excise such language from our vocabulary in order to combat dualism.

 

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