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Journal of Philosophical Research

Volume 20, 1995

Don Ross
Pages 237-268

Minimal Strong Functionalism

This paper is motivated by the concern that increasingly fewer philosophers of mind seem prepared to call themselves ‘functionalists’ these days. I suggest that this has less to do with explicit arguments presented against functionalism than with a gradual decay in the clarity of the term’s reference. This decay has two sources: functionalism has involved several different, logically independent research commitments, and it has become tightly associated, to an unnecessary degree, with classical computationalism, a program which is now under severe pressure from connectionist and other bottom-up methodologies in Al. After diagnosing the causes of this drift, I seek to arrest it by sketching a version of functionalism---Minimal Strong Functionalism---that is strong enough to have ontological and methodological bite, but that is sufficiently minimal in its empirical commitments so as to not be hostage to the outcome of the current dispute in Al between connectionists and classicists.

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