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Consciousness, functional isomorphism and the replacement thought experiment

Bieletto Bueno, ME; (2014) Consciousness, functional isomorphism and the replacement thought experiment. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

In this thesis, my main objective is the presentation and evaluation of several versions of a thought experiment that are offered for supporting a functionalist thesis concerning the generation of conscious phenomenal experiences. These versions depict replacement scenarios that describe an imaginary process for creating functional duplicates of the brains of conscious beings. It is assumed that the brain of a conscious person implements a determinate functional organization or structure, which can be initially understood as the abstract pattern of interaction between the different parts of the brain. The replacement process begins by adopting a certain level of functional organization by identifying a number of basic components in the brain that perform a certain function inside it. These basic components are then replaced by entities that may not share the same physiochemical composition of the original elements but that perform the same function inside the brain. When the replacement process is finished, the resulting system is a functional isomorph of the original system at the level initially determined. In this thesis, I will concentrate on two versions of the replacement thought experiment: the neural version and the interchange version. My first main claim is that the neural version of the replacement thought experiment, as presented in this thesis, gives adequate support to the thesis that the generation of conscious phenomenal experiences naturally supervenes on the property of instantiating the functional organization of the brain at a neural level. My second main claim is that a different version of the replacement thought experiment, which I call the interchange version, ultimately fails in supporting the thesis that the generation of conscious phenomenal experiences logically supervenes on the property of instantiating the functional organization of the brain.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Consciousness, functional isomorphism and the replacement thought experiment
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Keywords: Consciousness, phenomenal consciousness, functionalism, functional isomorphism, replacement thought experiment
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1420158
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