Single Idea 7441

[catalogued under 17. Mind and Body / C. Functionalism / 4. Causal Functionalism]

Full Idea

The definitive characteristic of any experience is its causal role, its most typical causes and effects; but we materialists believe that these causal roles which belong by analytic necessity to experiences belong in fact to certain physical states.

Gist of Idea

Experiences are defined by their causal role, and causal roles belong to physical states


David Lewis (An Argument for the Identity Theory [1966], žI)

Book Reference

Lewis,David: 'Philosophical Papers Vol.1' [OUP 1983], p.100

A Reaction

This is the Causal version of functionalism, which Armstrong also developed. The word 'typical' leads later to a teleological element in the theory (e.g. in Lycan). There are other things to say about mental states than just their causal role.