Is Functionalism Inconsistent?

Owain Griffin (OSU)

Starting with Bealer (1978), some authors have claimed that Beth-style definability results show functionalism about the mind to be inconsistent. If these arguments go through, then the Beth result provides a way of collapsing functionalism into reductionism – exactly what functionalists purport to deny. While this has received discussion in the literature (See Hellman & Thompson (1975), Block (1980), Tennant (1985)) it has recently been resuscitated and refined by Halvorson (2019). In this paper, we question the argument’s accuracy, and propose a new objection to it. We claim that in order to derive its conclusion, the argument relies fundamentally on equivocations concerning the notion of definability.