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2011-06-10
Who is conceiving of my zombie twin?
Let's grant that a "zombie twin" is conceivable. This conception is apparently conscious. Therefore to show that a complete zombie world is conceivable, the conscious conception of the physical stuff in it must somehow stay in the actual world. It doesn't seem to me that this is possible. For example, in my most basic conception of my zombie twin, I'm having a visual experience of him, so am I looking in the mirror? That can't be if I'm a zombie. I must be, as I normally am, conscious, looking at my zombie twin, who is rather more like a clone. Thoughts?

2011-06-30
Who is conceiving of my zombie twin?
Reply to Nathan Jarmie
I might have missed something here. Your idea at least seems radical. I haven't really heard of conscious conceptions before. I mean, why would the conception of a zombie twin be conscious? If I am conceiving of some concept, I at least would be surprised to find the conception I'm holding conscious. Should I feel bad when I stop?

Also, I thought the idea with zombies were that they have the same physical composition we do without the consciousness we have. So, if you're conceiving of your conscious zombie twin, wouldn't that pretty much just be conceiving of your twin? What makes him zombie?

2011-06-30
Who is conceiving of my zombie twin?
Reply to Nathan Jarmie
A conscious conception of physical stuff != physical stuff.
I can't be sure if that's what I think the problem is because I don't think the post is clear enough. It seems like there are a lot of things you're assuming and not making clear. Can you expand on your original post a bit more to make the idea clearer?

2011-07-04
Who is conceiving of my zombie twin?
Reply to Nathan Jarmie
Thanks for the comments. Let me try again:

Let's say you want to conceive of a zombie world. How do you do this? You have to think of physical stuff like people, who are, of course, zombies. Whatever you are conceiving of, like all the colors on the zombie people, I bet it has phenomenal character. So someone (you) must not be a zombie.

David Chalmers (1996) briefly speaks about this (at least I think that's what he's talking about), concluding that even if only a partly zombie world is conceivable, the zombie argument still goes through.

One might also be worried by the fact that the concept of consciousness is arguably not present at the center of the zombie world, whereas the application of a primary intention might require the presence of the relevant concept at the center of the world. (One might even start to worry about the application of the zombie’s concept!) I think the situation is more subtle than this--primary intentions need not require the presence of the original concept--but in any case, we can bypass this worry altogether simply by considering a partial zombie world: one in which I am at the center, conscious, with all the relevant concepts, but in which some other people are zombies [emphasis added] (133).1


1. Chalmers, D. J., 1996, The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory, New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press.

2011-07-11
Who is conceiving of my zombie twin?
Reply to Nathan Jarmie
A conscious zombie is a zombie who is conscious of the physical world they live in; exactly the same physical world I normally experience. A zombie doesn't experience the physical world in the same way I do because he lacks subjective experience. So what is a zombies 'experience' like?

As a member of the non-zombie race, there are certain contingencies that can be predicated about me. I drink German beer, I own an Italian car, I own my own business, I play tennis and I gamble too much  at the casino. Taken at face value these contingincies can and do appear to be just that, contingencies in the Humean sense. In fact, they are not. Most can be explained in terms of my subjective experiences. For example, a consequence of my gambling is feeling guilty about having so much money to waste. I offset this by drinking German beer.

But what if a I had a zombie twin who does exactly the same thing as I do?. Would his predicate sheet look exactly like mine? It is possible, but the big difference would be that anything we predicate about him are genuine contingencies. One contingency is as good as another when it comes to zombies. In other words, with zombies there are no logical necessities when it comes to matters of fact. Humans, on the other hand have psychological necessities (in the Kantian sense) when it comes to matters of fact.

Instead of saying that with zombies,"All is dark inside" perhaps we could say , "All is light inside". I think zombies are a bit like Buridan's ass. Unable to make a choice between experiences ( one experience is as good as another) he becomes completely non-functional in the physical world.


David

2011-07-12
Who is conceiving of my zombie twin?
Hi David,

Thanks for commenting. You go into detail about zombies, but I don't see how it relates to my concern about them. Could you explain?

Best,
Nathan

2011-08-06
Who is conceiving of my zombie twin?
Reply to Nathan Jarmie
Your view in the mirror is a "Cartesian Theatre".  A zombie has no Cartesian Theatre.  A digital computer has no Cartesian Theatre.  Can you provide a physical description of a Cartesian Theatre?

Descartes tried to provide such a description and ended up with Cartesian Dualism, suggesting that animals were zombies because they would lack the Theatre.

2011-08-19
Who is conceiving of my zombie twin?
Reply to Nathan Jarmie
Nathan,

I think this sounds something like the argument that Eric Marcus made in his (2004) paper. He argues that "[t]hought experiments alleged to feature zombies founder on the fact that, on the one hand, they must involve first-person imagining, and yet, on the other hand, cannot." Does this sound like what you're trying to say? If so, perhaps you could take a look at how he works it out and at how Torin Alter (2007) responds.

Best,
Nick



2011-08-23
Who is conceiving of my zombie twin?
Reply to Nick Alvarez
Nick,

Maybe, but I'm not quite sure. I am surprised that this idea is so hard for me to convey. What is crucial is that it is inconceivable just that oneself is a zombie, and that eliminates the possibility of a complete zombie world. That others are zombies is perfectly conceivable. In fact, it may even be that we have a hard time thinking of them otherwise. Recall the problem of other minds (one version): we have access only to our own consciousness, so how can we know others have consciousness (or minds)?

Basically, it is inconceivable that oneself is a zombie because conceiving of - or imagining - physical things requires one to have consciousness. To "conceive" or "imagine" is to have a conscious experience of something.

-Nathan

2011-08-27
Who is conceiving of my zombie twin?
Reply to Nathan Jarmie
NJ: "To "conceive" or "imagine" is to have a conscious experience of something."

An imagined object or a conception on their own are just sets of data.    If a computer contains a new set of data that it displays on its screen the difference between the data in the computer and the data in your experience containing the screen is the Cartesian Theatre that I mentioned above.  When I imagine an imaginary object I place it in the Theatre, it is not sufficient just to have the data, the data must occupy space and time in a view.

Are you sure that Descartes did not already explore this problem when he proposed that animals are like zombies?

2011-08-31
Who is conceiving of my zombie twin?
Reply to Nathan Jarmie
Nathan,

I am 100th part zombie; every 100th second my consciousness falters for just one second, but I am never the wiser as I just switch to zombie for that second, and thus continue on my merry way. To the onlooker nothing changed, but in fact I am 100th part zombie. Is this a counterexample to your claim that "it is inconceivable that oneself is a zombie"?

To conceive of oneself from a first person view or ?within? the Cartesian Theatre on the assumption that I have no first person view or Cartesian Theatre certainly seems a non-starter. However, not more so than conceiving of a litter of kittens without kittens. The statement / scenario that you are trying to conceive of is inconceivable because it is inconsistent.

- Asger