Functionalism views the mental processes in terms of causes and effects (ex. inputs such as sensory stimuli and output such as moving an extremity).
But how would free will fit into this theory if at all?
One would imagine that he has at least some control over his thoughts. If a person would like to think about ice cream, for example, then he would be able to by the power of his free will. Wouldn't the decision of thinking about ice cream be a mental process itself?
If it is, then the output is obvious, but there must be some input that caused the output. If the output (thinking about ice cream) is really dependent on some input, then how could free will exist?
What I mean is this: It seems that any array of possible actions performed via the power of free must be at least somewhat restricted by some input(s). Environmental factors influence our behavior, such as seeing a family member or intoxication. So, some input(s) should restrict the possible actions one can choose to do, but there is always some range of outputs that can be chosen from if there really is free will. It is important that:
- There are multiple outputs that can be chosen from (if there was only one then these input(s) would not allow for free will).
- An agent of free will can choose which of these outputs to "pick."
The action of "picking" (like "picking" to think about ice cream) seems to be a mental process as well, however. It must also be viewed in terms of input(s)/output(s) in the view of functionalism. So, in the action of "picking," what would be the input that causes one to "pick"? And if there really was this sort of input and output, then how could "picking" be an action of free will?
Let's say that there are some input(s) that similarly restrict what one can "pick," but not completely so free will can be allowed for. Even if this is the case, how can "picking" the available outputs be explained in terms of functionalism? It seems that the process of "picking" some available outputs would still require an input until there is only one available output.
It consequently seems that functionalism does not allow for free will. Am I wrong or correct?
Source of my views on functionalism: Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy's Article on Functionalism