Scientists Claim That Water = H2 O. Suppose That A Neuroscientist Claimed That Pain = The Firing Of C Fibres. How Would A Functionalist Argue Against The Neuroscientist's Claim?

937 words - 4 pages

Scientists claim that water = H2O. Suppose that a neuroscientist claimed that pain = the firing of c-fibres. How would a functionalist argue against the neuroscientist's claim? What does this dispute reveal about the essence of mental states?In the dispute about the essence of mental states, the two main standpoints are identity theory, the belief that mental states have a substantial essence; and functionalism, the belief that the essence is functional. In this essay I will be assessing each of the claims made by functionalists arguing against the neuroscientist’s claim that pain is the firing of c-fibres. I will thus disprove these arguments, concluding how this dispute reveals that the essence of mental states is substantial.Functionalists define the essence of mental states as functional, stating that that mental states are “whatever states take (or are supposed to take) a creature from environmental input to behavioural output, no matter what they are made out of.” Pain, for instance, is an internal state that is typically caused by bodily damage, and typically causes the desire that it ceases along with behavioural responses that typically attempts to minimize the damage.The neuroscientist’s claim would be classified as an identity theory or physicalism. Identity theory is definitively materialistic; keeping that the connection between mind and body is identity: the mind is the brain, and therefore, mental states are states of the brain. I now will outline three arguments made by functionalists against this theory – the concepts of Martian pain, prosthetic p-fibres and dolphin pain.Martian pain is a thought experiment deliberated by David Lewis in his paper “Mad Pain and Martian Pain”. He describes a Martian with a brain and different bodily make-up who, lacking c-fibres that when pinched, still writhes and groans as a reaction to the inflammation of cavities on his feet. Lewis states that we cannot doubt that this Martian is in pain, though identity theory claims that he cannot be, considering he does not have c-fibres.The prosthetics or “p-fibres” argument creates a situation where a person’s neural c-fibres have been replaced by prosthetic p-fibres which act in the same way, causing the person to behave when pinched as she would if she still had c-fibres. This argument attempts to claim that although she lacks c-fibres, she is obviously still feeling pain, therefore proving that the essence of her mental state (pain) is functionalist.Dolphin pain is the third argument constructed against identity theory. Functionalist tell us to consider, that if dolphins’ neural assembly where to differ from that of humans, and that instead of c-fibres they have d-fibres. These d-fibres also act in the same way as c-fibres and that to determine if a dolphin is in pain we just do so by judging its behavioural outputs instead of searching for the non-existent c-fibres. Essentially, it is the role...

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