A controversial issue of this decade is whether or not homosexuality is a choice or an inherent quality at birth. Doctors and Scientists have come forth with evidence, but still yet a definitive conclusion has not been attained, or at least one that the vast majority agrees on. Perhaps the problem can be solved with simple application to philosophical theories. Since science can’t seem to agree upon a consistent answer, maybe with logical reason this “phenomena” can be explained.
In order to circumvent unenthusiastic readers, who would take offense, from becoming aggravated; it will be much easier to discuss why “Johnathan” lusts after “Brittany” the Blonde. The three main theories we will include are behaviorism, identity, and functionalism. In light of the asininity of the first two theories a “biased” approach will be taken: Firstly, there is no blanket explanation for why people are attracted to others, but functionalism makes the most logical attempt at such. Hilary Putnam characterized being in pain in his The Nature of Mental States, 1973, as a “Functional state of the organism,” (Putnam, 76).
The organism is feeling/experiencing pain on behalf of a certain stimulus, which functions to place the organism in this state. Lust is one in the same with pain, Johnathan would become sexually driven toward Brittany because, a given stimulus would influence, Brittany’s blonde hair would influence part of Johnathan which functions as to arouse him when its time to pro-create. In Putnam’s, Machine State Functionalism, propositional attitudes are explained through a Turing Machine, which is a type of a Probabilistic Automaton, meaning that there is a probability or high likelihood of “X” happening if Johnathan is in “State Y”.
In this aspect there is a certain amount of predictability; his actions can be calculated to an extent. Notice that Johnathan’s actions with the blonde is always some form of advancement, whether in Set 1 or Set 2, but there is a 50-50 chance when he sees a girl with black hair that he will be attracted. Putnam would say that there is a vast amount of sets and obviously huge amounts of inputs, so unless one knew exactly how Johnathan works in regards to what he is attracted to its not likely this approach is possible in this instance.
However, if it were possible then the functionalists would lists out every set of functions, along with the inputs and corresponding outputs. This approach differs from both the behaviorist and the Identity Theorists. Smart and the Identity Theorists would say that what occurs in the mind when Johnathan sees the Blonde is exactly the same with what happens in the brain when he sees the Blonde. This means that Johnathan would have to have certain physical properties in his brain to have the mental sets 1 and 2 listed above. In Smart’s Sensations and Brain Processes, 1959, he explains his intuition that sensations are brain processes.
Not in the literal sense, but that when Johnathan becomes aroused by the Blonde he is reporting a brain process, which occurs when Johnathan sees a blonde headed girl. The Behaviorist would say that Johnathan was predisposed to being attracted to Blonde hair. As in genealogically his family’s males could have a history of being attracted to Blondes, or in his house hold his father raised him to believe that Blonde headed girls were the prettiest. Which is a reasonable explanation but not one that should be the definite answer in all cases; this brings to why Putnam feels that functionalism prevails as the dominant and most logical theory.
Putnam states in Brains and Behavior, 1968, and reiterates it The Nature of Mental States, 1973, that behavior can’t be the only judge of the mental states. Paralleling the “X-worlder” analogy; Johnathan can be highly attracted to the Blonde but never show any signs with his behavior, and he might not ever act upon this emotion because he can’t, not because he was disposed but because he doesn’t have the ability to biologically, or perhaps spiritually. Either or, this is viable hole in behaviorism.
Functionalism would say that there can be multiple mental states that function differently according to varied inputs. An Identity Theorists could argue that all the inputs invariably are instigated or at least initiated through the brain, meaning that ultimately these are brain processes. As in all of the thoughts or mental processes are brain processes in as much as one cannot happen without the other. The functionalists will say that a computer could be given programs with the functions that induce the mental processes and outputs, which are that of lust and attraction.
Ultimately though, this is a program and not an actual mental process, a reciprocation of the mental processes seen in Human beings. In analogous terms: A computer engineer comes along and hardwires emotions into a robot with the functions that directly correspond to the table of inputs and mental states which are that of his own. The brain process occurs in the computer engineers mind, just like the calculations do in the robot, but the engineer can overcome this mental state by opposing mental states within his brain. A robot, however must act upon what was programmed into his mainframe.
Technically each mind state, the engineer has could be programmed into the robot but there is such an infinite amount of mental states that this could never occur; which means that consciousness and each mental state could never be completely attained in a robot because each function would have to be placed manually into its system. A defender of Putnam would say that though seemingly improbable, as long as each function could be programmed there is a possibility. The likelihood of this happening is not contingent on whether functionalism is a legitimate explanation.
Whether or not the robot can think is irrelevant, the same propositional attitude that Johnathan has in his attraction to Blondes can, can take place in the robot if that particular mental state is programmed in to respond to see Blonde headed woman. Who’s Right and Wrong: The objection proposed by the Identity Theorist, though strong and fairly logical is not accurate. The functionalist approach, however is much more sensible. Functionalism provides no limits on the causes of thoughts, desires, and so on. Identity Theory and Behaviorism provides boundaries on why and causes.
These theories provide good explanations that make sense but not ones that are ultimately always so. The functional theory, provides that such can be calculated and predicted, and the amount of mental states and inputs are infinite, thus its validity. In the case of Johnathan and his attraction to blondes, functionalism explains why he is attracted to these females but does not say that this must necessarily be so. So getting back to the original problem, what determines why Johnathan is attracted to Brittany: Functionalism most adequately explains this.
It cannot simply be said that he was disposed to be attracted, or there is a process in the brain that was triggered at the sight of the blonde, and leave it at this. There are all kinds of factors that must be taken into affect, perhaps both of the above come into play. Regardless, a specific chain of inputs while Johnathan is in a specific mental state determine the reaction, or at least the probability of such. This is the main concept of behaviorism and why it conveys the best explanation for why people are attracted to other people moreso.