Zombies are Deciders Too [Book Review]

Philosophical Psychology 20 (3):12-15 (2007)
This book covers a vast amount of material in the philosophy of mind, which makes it difficult to do justice to its tightly argued and nuanced details. It does, however, have two overarching goals that are visible, so to speak, from space. In the first half of the book Kirk aims to show that, contra his former self, philosophical zombies are not conceivable. By this he means that the zombie scenario as usually constructed contains an unnoticed contradiction, and explaining the contradiction reveals a radical misconception about the nature of phenomenal <span class='Hi'>consciousness</span>. His second aim of the book is to construct a theory of perceptual-phenomenal <span class='Hi'>consciousness</span> that avoids this contradiction.            The anti-zombie argument can be stated rather easily. According to the ‘zombist’ there can be a creature that is a molecule-for-molecule-duplicate of me and yet lacks phenomenal <span class='Hi'>consciousness</span>. At the same time they want to hold that we have ‘epistemic access’ to our phenomenal <span class='Hi'>consciousness</span>. These two claims are not consistent with each other. To see why, imagine a zombie world that is identical to ours except in respect of phenomenal <span class='Hi'>consciousness</span>. Since that world is just like ours we can assume that it is causally closed under the physical. Now, continues Kirk, it should be possible to add to that world whatever it is that the zombist thinks will transform it into a world that does have phenomenal <span class='Hi'>consciousness</span>. But since whatever we added would have to be nonphysical, since their world is identical to ours (excepting <span class='Hi'>consciousness</span>), and so could not interact causally with the physical world (which is closed under the physical), it follows that we could not know anything about these ‘e-qualia’. Therefore, we could not have ‘epistemic access’ to them.            To make this vivid he offers what he calls the ‘sole-pictures’ argument. Again, consider our zombie world..
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