Is it true that if zombies-creatures who are behaviorally indistinguishable from us, but no more conscious than a rock-are logically possible, the computational conception of mind is false? Are zombies logically possible? Are they physically possible? This paper is a careful, sustained argument for affirmative answers to these three questions.
In response to Mole 2009, I present an argument for zombie action. The crucial question is not whether but rather to what extent we are zombie agents. I argue that current evidence supports only minimal zombie agency.
Knock-down refutations are rare in philosophy, and unambiguous self-refutations are even rarer, for obvious reasons, but sometimes we get lucky. Sometimes philosophers clutch an insupportable hypothesis to their bosoms and run headlong over the cliff edge. Then, like cartoon characters, they hang there in mid-air, until they notice what they have done and gravity takes over. Just such a boon is the philosophers' concept of a zombie, a strangely attractive notion that sums up, in one leaden lump, almost everything (...) that I think is wrong with current thinking about consciousness. Philosophers ought to have dropped the zombie like a hot potato, but since they persist in their embrace, this gives me a golden opportunity to focus attention on the most seductive error in current thinking. (shrink)
Todd Moody’s Zombie Earth thought experiment is an attempt to show that ‘conscious inessentialism’ is false or in need of qualification. We defend conscious inessentialism against his criticisms, and argue that zombie thought experiments highlight the need to explain why consciousness evolved and what function(s) it serves. This is the hardest problem in consciousness studies.
Zombies and minimal physicalism -- The case for zombies -- Zapping the zombie idea -- What has to be done -- Deciders -- Decision, control, and integration -- De-sophisticating the framework -- Direct activity -- Gap? What gap? -- Survival of the fittest.
In recent years the 'zombie argument' has come to occupy a central role in the case against physicalist views of consciousness, in large part because of the powerful advocacy it has received from David Chalmers.1 In this paper I seek to neutralize it by showing that a parallel argument can be run for physicalism, an argument turning on the conceivability of what I shall call anti-zombies. I shall argue that the result is a stand-off, and that the zombie (...) argument offers no independent reason to reject physicalism. (shrink)
Most materialist responses to the zombie argument against materialism take either a ?type-A? or ?type-B? approach: they either deny the conceivability of zombies or accept their conceivability while denying their possibility. However, a ?type-Q? materialist approach, inspired by Quinean suspicions about a priority and modal entailment, rejects the sharp line between empirical and conceptual truths needed for the traditional responses. In this paper, I develop a type-Q response to the zombie argument, one stressing the theory-laden nature of our (...) conceivability and possibility intuitions. I argue that our first-person access to the conscious mind systematically misleads us into thinking that the distinctive qualities of conscious experience?qualia?are nonfunctional. Qualia, I contend, are functional, even though they do not seem to be. To support my claim, I introduce the ?meditations? of Rene Descartes? zombie twin. This establishes the plausibility of an appearance/reality distinction for consciousness and it undermines various anti-materialist objections based on privileged first-person access. I conclude that the best overall theory posits an appearance/reality distinction for qualia, and this, for the type-Q materialist, is decisive. (shrink)
This paper suggests a critique of the zombie argument that bypasses the need to decide on the truth of its main premises, and specifically, avoids the need to enter the battlefield of whether conceivability entails metaphysical possibility. It is argued that if we accept, as the zombie argument’s supporters would urge us, the assumption that an ideal reasoner can conceive of a complete physical description of the world without conceiving of qualia, the general principle that conceivability entails metaphysical (...) possibility, and the general principle that for any s and t the metaphysical possibility of s & − t entails that s does not necessitate t, we have to conclude not that materialism is false but rather that either materialism or the “mental paint” (or “phenomenist”) conception of phenomenality is false. And further, given the initial advantages of materialism, the fact that proponents of the zombie argument are not allowed to rely on arguments against materialism in confronting this dilemma, and difficulties with arguments in favor of phenomenism, we find ourselves pushed to reject the mental paint conception rather than materialism. Or at any rate, it is hard to see how the proponent of the zombie argument can carry the burden of proof that lies with her. Thus, whether or not those premises of the zombie argument are true, the argument fails to refute materialism. (shrink)
A prevailing view in contemporary philosophy of mind is that zombies are logically possible. I argue, via a thought experiment, that if this prevailing view is correct, then I could be transformed into a zombie. If I could be transformed into a zombie, then surprisingly, I am not certain that I am conscious. Regrettably, this is not just an idiosyncratic fact about my psychology; I think you are in the same position. This means that we must revise or (...) replace some important positions in the philosophy of mind. We could embrace radical skepticism about our own consciousness, or maintain the complete and total infallibility of our beliefs about our own phenomenal experiences. I argue that we should actually reject the logical possibility of zombies. (shrink)
What is the role of conscious visual experience in the control and guidance of human behaviour? According to some recent treatments, the role is surprisingly indirect. Conscious visual experience, on these accounts, serves the formation of plans and the selection of action types and targets, while the control of 'online' visually guided action proceeds via a quasi-independent non-conscious route. In response to such claims, critics such as (Wallhagen , pp. 539-61) have suggested that the notions of control and guidance invoked (...) are unacceptably vague, and that that the image of 'zombie systems' guiding action fails to take account of the possibility that there is genuine but unconceptualized, unnoticed, and/or unreportable experience taking place and guiding or controlling the actions. I address both sets of concerns. I try to show that refining and clarifying the key notions of control and guidance leaves the original argument intact, as does the appeal to unconceptualized, unnoticed, or unreportable experiences. The exercise serves, however, to highlight an important complex of considerations concerning the relations between control, agency, and experience. Better understanding these relations is, I suggest, an important source of insights concerning the nature of phenomenal experience. (shrink)
Chalmers (The Conscious Mind, Oxford Unversity Press, Oxford 1996) has argued for a form of property dualism on the basis of the concept of a zombie (which is physically identical to normals), and the concept of the inverted spectrum. He asserts that these concepts show that the facts about consciousness, such as experience or qualia, are really further facts about our world, over and above the physical facts. He claims that they are the hard part of the mind-body issue. (...) He also claims that consciousness is a fundamental feature of the world like mass, charge, etc. He says that consciousness does not logically supervene on the physical and all current attempts to assert an identity between consciousness and the physical are just as non-reductive as his dualism. They are simply correlations and are part of the problem of the explanatory gap. In this paper, three examples of strong identities between a sensation or a quale and a physiological process are presented, which overcome these problems. They explain the identity in an a priori manner and they show that consciousness or sensations (Q) logically supervene on the physical (P), in that it is logically impossible to have P and not to have Q. In each case, the sensation was predicted and entailed by the physical. The inverted spectrum problem for consciousness is overcome and explained by a striking asymmetry in colour space. It is concluded that as some physical properties realize some sensations or qualia that human zombies are not metaphysically possible and the explanatory gap is bridged in these cases. Thus, the hard problem is overcome in these instances. (shrink)
From the AI point of view, consciousness must be regarded as a collection of interacting processes rather than the unitary object of much philosophical speculation. We ask what kinds of propositions and other entities need to be designed for consciousness to be useful to an animal or a machine. We thereby assert that human consciousness is useful to human functioning and not just and epiphenomenon. Zombies in the sense of Todd Moody's article are merely the victims of Moody's prejudices. To (...) behave like humans, zombies will need what Moody might call pseudo-consciousness, but useful pseudo-consciousness will share all the observable qualities of human consciousness including what the zombie will be able to report. Robots will require a pseudo-consciousness with many of the intellectual qualities of human consciousness but will function successfully with few if any human emotional conscious qualities if that is how we choose to build them. (shrink)
Zombie art, or salvage art, are artworks that are damaged beyond repair, deemed ‘no-longer-art’ by insurance companies, and removed from the market and stored at claims inventories due to their purported loss of value. This paper aims to make sense of the notion of zombie art. It then aims to determine whether artefacts that fall under this concept retain any aesthetic value, and whether they can genuinely cease being artworks, i.e. be dead art.
Nuestra intención es, después de analizar en qué consiste la corazonada "zombie", deslindar la tesis principal que subyace a esta intuición en sus dos vertientes (la metafísica y la epistemológica) e intentar aportar alguna solución positiva que permita, en primer lugar, alejar cuanto más posible la plausibilidad de esta intuición de toda explicación de la conciencia y, en segundo lugar, aportar nuestro granito de arena a una explicación externista de la conciencia de corte materialista.
This article deploys and extends Ulrich Beck’s critique of ‘zombie categories’ (Beck in J Consum Cult 1 (2):261–277, 2001) to consider how conjugal relationships are brought into being before the law. The argument presented here is that sexual performatives relating to marriage—and especially, in this instance, consummation—continue to produce a kind of social-legal magic, even as the social flesh of their enactment is rotting. Rules concerning annulment relating to wedding ceremonies, consent, disclosure, and consummation demonstrate that certain frameworks of (...) conjugality involve a kind of corporeal magic animating the privileged place of heterosexual marriage. Thus, rules and regulations pertaining to weddings continue to produce and protect heterogendered, sexually dimorphous bodies, even though this privileging is—or at least, is becoming—socially obsolete. (shrink)
This essay looks to the omission of aging queer bodies from new medical technologies of sex. We extend the Foucauldian space of the clinic to the mediascape, a space not only of representations but where the imagination is conditioned and different worlds dreamed into being. We specifically examine the relationship between aging queers and the marketing of technologies of sexual function. We highlight the ways queers are excluded from the spaces of the clinic, specifically the heternormative sexual scripts that organize (...) biomedical care. Finally, using recent zombie theory, we gesture toward both the constraints and possibilities of queer inclusion within the discourses and practices that aim to reanimate sexual function. We suggest that zombies usefully frame extant articulations of aging queers with sex and the dangerous lure of medical treatments that promise revitalized, but normative, sexual function at the cost of other, perhaps queerer intimacies. (shrink)
I argue that zombies are inconceivable. More precisely, I argue that the conceivability-intuition that is used to demonstrate their possibility has been misconstrued. Thought 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_. Philosophers who take themselves to have imagined zombies have unwittingly conflated imagining a creature who lacks consciousness with imagining a creature without also imagining the consciousness it may or may not (...) possess. (shrink)
Philosopher's zombies are hypothetical beings behaviorally, functionally, and perhaps even physically indistinguishable from normal humans, but who lack our consciousness. Many people seem to be convinced that such zombies are a real conceptual possibility, and that this bare possibility entails that understanding human consciousness must remain forever beyond the reach of science. However, the conceptual entailments of zombiehood have not been sufficiently examined. This brief article shows that any way of understanding the behavior of zombies that does in fact support (...) the suggested entailment, leads to contradictions and absurdities. Zombies are _not_ conceptually possible. (shrink)
This paper explores the possibility that the human mind underwent substantial changes in recent history. Assuming that consciousness is a substantial trait of the mind, the paper focuses on the suggestion made by Julian Jaynes that the Mycenean Greeks had a "bicameral" mind instead of a conscious one. The suggestion is commonly dismissed as patently absurd, for instance by critics such as Ned Block. A closer examination of the intuitions involved, considered from different theoretical angles (social constructivism, idealism, eliminativism, realism), (...) reveals that the idea of 'Greek zombies' should be taken more seriously than is commonly assumed. (shrink)
Certain recent philosophical theories offer the prospect that zombies are possible. These theories argue that experiential contents, or qualia, are nonphysical properties. The arguments are based on the conceivability of alternate worlds in which physical laws and properties remain the same, but in which qualia either differ or are absent altogether. This article maintains that qualia are, on the contrary, physical properties in the world. It is shown how, under the burden of the a posteriori identification of qualia with physical (...) properties, a reasoned choice can be made between the two types of theories which ultimately favors materialism and rejects zombies. (shrink)
John Perry's book Knowledge, Possibility, and Consciousness is a lucid and engaging defense of a physicalist view of consciousness against various anti-physicalist arguments. In what follows, I will address Perry's responses to the three main anti-physicalist arguments he discusses: the zombie argument (focusing on imagination), the knowledge argument (focusing on indexicals), and the modal argument (focusing on intensions).
Beginning with the paradoxes of zombie twins, we present an argument that dualism is both true and false. We show that avoiding this contradiction is impossible. Our diagnosis is that consciousness itself engenders this contradiction by producing contradictory points of view. This result has a large effect on the realism/anti-realism debate, namely, it suggests that this debate is intractable, and furthermore, it explains why this debate is intractable. We close with some comments on what our results mean for metaphysics (...) and philosophy, in general. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that it would be unprincipled to withhold mental predicates from our behavioural duplicates however unlike us they are "on the inside." My arguments are unusual insofar as they rely neither on an implicit commitment to logical behaviourism in any of its various forms nor to a verificationist theory of meaning. Nor do they depend upon prior metaphysical commitments or to philosophical "intuitions". Rather, in assembling reminders about how the application of our consciousness and propositional attitude (...) concepts are ordinarily defended, I argue on explanatory and moral grounds that they cannot be legitimately withheld from creatures who behave, and who would continue to behave, like us. I urge that we should therefore reject the invitation to revise the application of these concepts in the ways that would be required by recent proposals in the philosophy of mind. (shrink)
David Milner and Melvyn Goodale, and the many psychologists and philosophers who have been influenced by their work, claim that ‘the visual system that gives us our visual experience of the world is not the same system that guides our movements in the world’. The arguments that have been offered for this surprising claim place considerable weight on two sources of evidence — visual form agnosia and the reaching behaviour of normal subjects when picking up objects that induce visual illusions. (...) The present article shows that, if we are careful to consider the possibility that a demonstrative gesture can contribute content to a conscious experience, then neither source of evidence is compelling. (shrink)
In their paper “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary” (2000), George Graham and Terence Horgan argue, contrary to a widespread view, that the socalled Knowledge Argument may after all pose a problem for certain materialist accounts of perceptual experience. I propose a reply to Graham and Horgan on the materialist’s behalf, making use of a distinction between knowing what it’s like to see something F and knowing how F things look.
Certain cognitive and philosophical aspects of the concept of conceivability with intended or established diversion from (putative) reality are discussed. The “coherence gap problem” arises when certain fragments of the real world are replaced with imaginary situations while most details are (intentionally or not) ignored. Another issue, “the spectator problem”, concerns the participation of the conceiver himself in the world conceived. Three different examples of conceivability are used to illustrate our points, namely thought experiments in physics, a hypothetical world devoid (...) of consciousness (zombie world), and virtual reality. (shrink)
The aim of this article is to reclaim social class as a central concern within education, not in the traditional sense as a dimension of educational stratification, but as a powerful and vital aspect of both learner and wider social identities. Drawing on historical and present evidence, a case is made that social inequalities arising from social class have never been adequately addressed within schooling. Recent qualitative research is used to indicate some of the ways in which class is lived (...) in classrooms. The article also raises concerns about the ability of the education system to positively address social class in the classroom when contemporary initial teacher training rarely engages with it as a relevant concern within schooling. (shrink)