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Description: Discusses the contention that a given mental kind (property, state, event) is realized by distinct physical kinds. From the Stanford Encyclopedia, by John Bickle.
Multiple Realizability (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) First published Mon Nov 23, 1998; substantive revision Tue Jan 15, 2013 In the philosophy of mind, the multiple realizability thesis contends that a single mental kind (property, state, event) can be realized by many distinct physical kinds. A common example is pain. Many philosophers have asserted that a wide variety of physical properties, states, or events, sharing no features in common at that level of description, can all realize the same pain. This thesis served as a premise in the most influential argument against early theories that identified mental states with brain states (psychoneural identity theories). It also served in early arguments for functionalism. Nonreductive physicalists later adopted it (usually without alteration) to challenge all varieties of psychophysical reductionism. The argument has even been employed to challenge the functionalism it initially motivated.
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