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  • A theory of mind according to which mental states are defined by their functional roles. A functional role may itself be characterized as a set of cause-effect relationships, a set of input-output relationships, or simply the role a state plays in a system. For instance, a functionalist would maintain that the mental state of desiring is defined by a functional role, such as a certain set of stimuli (inputs) and responses (outputs). Functionalists acknowledge the “multiple realizablity” of functional roles, which is the idea that a given functional role can be realized in a variety of organic or even inorganic systems.


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