Latest News on Functionalism : May 2022



This chapter explains that the functionalisms of philosophy of psychology are a closely knit group. Three functionalisms have been enormously influential in the philosophy of mind and psychology: functional analysis, computation-representation functionalism, and metaphysical functionalism. The chapter discusses machine versions of functionalism. Some versions of functionalism are couched in terms of the notion of a Turing machine, while others are not. A Turing machine is specified by two functions: one from inputs and states to outputs and one from inputs and states to states. A Turing machine has a finite number of states, inputs, and outputs and the two functions specify a set of conditionals; one for each combination of state and input. Machine versions of functionalism are useful for many purposes, but they do not provide the most general characterization of functionalism. Finally, it also reviews that many functionalists consider themselves the descendants of behaviorists who attempted to define a mental state in terms of what behaviors would be emitted in the presence of specified stimuli.[1]


Our task in this chapter is unique and thus extraordinarily challenging. The task is unique because unlike the remaining theory chapters, we consider a framework that has become virtually obsolete throughout general sociology (Coleman, 1990). Thirty years ago, structural-functionalism (or simply, functionalism) occupied a central place in family anthologies (McIntyre, 1966; Pitts, 1964). But in more recent collections, no one noticed or cared that it was omitted (Burr et al., 1979; Sus-sman & Steinmetz, 1987). Nevertheless, this book must address functionalism (1) because of its historic significance for studies of families, and (2) because functinalist assumptions remain central to family sociology and family studies, in spite of arguments to the contrary (Broderick, 1971a; Holman & Burr, 1980). To understand why functionalism was once considered important, then fell into disrepute, but continues to be significant for family research, we must first grasp what it was and is trying to say.[2]

Functionalism, Moral

Sometimes we infer the moral status of an action from its nonmoral properties. Perhaps we discover that an action would lead to many deaths and conclude that it would be morally wrong. Sometimes we infer the moral status of an action from information that is itself couched in moral terms. Perhaps we know which action available to a person is morally best, and from this we infer that the person ought to perform it. Finally, we sometimes infer what someone will do, or is inclined to do, from what they believe they ought to do. These kinds of transitions – from the nonmoral to the moral, from the moral to the moral, and from the moral to the nonmoral – are familiar to everyone who considers and debates important moral questions. Moral functionalism holds that they are the heart and soul of ethical theory; they define our subject. [3]

How is Block’s Central Argument against Functionalism?

Block argued against functionalism. The argument was metaphorized by building a normal body but with the brain of a homunculus. A review of the metaphorization exposes that the argument is inadequate to avoid the weakness of the functionalist doctrine.[4]

Academic Performance at the First Grade of Secondary Schools (Gymnasium) of Students Who Attended Small Rural Primary School

Aims: The aim of this research was to investigate the progress of students who study at Small Rural Primary School (SRPS), made in the first three grades of high school, based on their school performance since there is not such an empirical research in Greek bibliography.

Study Design: An empirical Cross-sectional study.

Place and Duration of Study: Department of Primary education University of Ioannina between September 2007 to June 2010.

Methodology: The sample was taken from three prefectures of North Greece. Choosing by lot from the high schools of the above prefectures, there were chosen those high schools which accommodated students from the three types of SRPS. From those students were chosen those ones that attended SRPS during their six year attendance in primary school. As far as the social background of the students there was no problem, as they all came from agricultural families with medium or inferior educational level of the parents. Based on the above criteria the sample consisted of 146 students.

Results: Summing up the findings of this research, a general statement is inferred: That SRPS are able to provide essential and adequate teaching work, reversing the opposite viewpoint. From the findings of the research, also we conclude that they can be combined with the corresponding findings of other researches contacted internationally and which lead to the estimation that there should be a differentiated approach of SRPS towards the elevation and the support of their educational and teaching work. The tendency therefore, of the educational policy as well as that of the rulers (those in office) should head for its functional improvement and not unsubstantiated logic of its “abolition”.

Conclusion: Concluding, it is stressed that with the present research is covered an essential bibliographical gap, whereas simultaneously new horizons for research and approach of SRPS open. [5]


[1] Block, N.J., 1982. Functionalism. In Studies in Logic and the Foundations of Mathematics (Vol. 104, pp. 519-539). Elsevier.

[2] Kingsbury, N. and Scanzoni, J., 2009. Structural-functionalism. In Sourcebook of family theories and methods (pp. 195-221). Springer, Boston, MA.

[3] Jackson, F., 2013. Functionalism, moral. International Encyclopedia of Ethics, pp.1-9.

[4] Ma, Z.G., 2018. How is Block’s Central Argument against Functionalism?. Asian Research Journal of Arts & Social Sciences, pp.1-4.

[5] Fykaris, I., 2012. Academic Performance at the First Grade of Secondary Schools (Gymnasium) of Students Who Attended Small Rural Primary School. Journal of Education, Society and Behavioural Science, pp.85-102.

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