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Functionalist and intentionalist explanations of mass murder cases - Essay Example

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Intentionalism and Functionalism as Explanations for Genocide: Nazis and Rwanda Introduction There are two different theories of the mind that might be brought to bear in the case of genocide – intentionalism and functionalism. These are complicated theories, so they are further explained below…
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Functionalist and intentionalist explanations of mass murder cases
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Download file to see previous pages Genocide is thus the result of ideology, as opposed to structure. With the functionalism, it is the opposite – the structures – political, environmental, etc. - are what influences the individual to act, or the group to act. A person might have an ideology that Jews are the cause of the problems of the world, and they must be eradicated, and this is what drove the Holocaust, say some historians, along with Hitler's overall mental problems. Others state that the structure is what drove the Holocaust – the recession that Germany was in, which made the people desperate enough to latch onto the ideas of Hitler. The functionalist argument could also be what explained why the individuals under Hitler, and the groups as well, would do what they did in carrying out the orders. With Rwanda, the functionalist argument is almost the entire argument, as no one individual had the ideology to carry out the genocide. However, if group ideology can be considered in the intentionalist argument, then this is one way that intentionalism can be used to explain what happened in Rwanda as well. This paper will explore these two theories, as well as explore how they fit into the parameters of these two tragedies. Intentionalism According to Crane (2007), the theory of intentionalism questions whether all mental states are intentional. Thoughts are intentional, in that they have an object (Armstrong, 1968). Or they might have multiple objects (Husserl, 1901). In other words, people who are thinking are thinking about something – there cannot be a thought about nothing. Since thoughts, by definition, are about something, they are said to be intentional thoughts (Chalmers, 2004). Crane (2007) asks the question of whether there are similar objects for emotions, sensations and perceptual experiences. Crane (2007) also explains what intentional objects are, and the intentional states of mind that are focused upon these objects. If one hopes for something, then this is an intentional mode. If one thinks of the object in different ways – champagne can also be thought of as sparkling wine, for instance – then this would be considered intentional content. The thing in the mind must be represented in one way or another, according to Crane (2007). Therefore, one must have intentional mode and content (Parsons, 1980). Crane (2007) also asks if the contents of all intentional states are true or false, which means that they are propositional. Or, the contents of an intentional state might be conceptual or non-conceptual (Martin, 2002). This means that the “state of mind has conceptual content when a subject needs to possess the concepts definitive of its content in order to be in that state” (Crane, 2007, p. 8). Nickel (2007) explains intentionalism as visual experiences that have phenomenology and content. Phenomenology is “what it is like to have it,” and content “is how the experience represents the world as being” (p. 1). He states that if two experiences differ in phenomenology, then they differ in content. Or, as Byrne (2001) understands it, one has a representation of a thought, and a sensation about the thought. The representation is the intentional part of the thought (Stalnaker, 1998). The intentional part of the thought may become separated from the sensation, according to some philosophers (Robinson, 1994). Nickel gives some helpful examples to compare and contrast when he speaks about the concepts. He explains phenomenology as being “ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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