I argue that the argument from zombies against physicalism is question-begging unless proponents of the argument from zombies can justify the inference from the metaphysical possibility of zombies to the falsity of physicalism in an independent and non-circular way, i.e., a way that does not already assume the falsity of physicalism.
This paper presents a reconstruction of the argument for the logical possibility of zombies, proposed by David Chalmers, which has been debated in analytical philosophy for at least fifteen years now. Beside discussing it, I’m trying to analyze every of its premises. My aim is, especially, to present how the reasoning can show that: (a) zombies/zombie worlds are genuinely conceivable; (b) conceivability is a good guide to possibility; (c) the possibility of zombies is philosophically significant. I’m particularly (...) putting emphasis on some issues concerning two-dimensional semantics and distinctions of conceivability. The conclusion of this paper is that the argument is still not refuted, so a discussion over it should be conducted, instead of a priori refutation. The debate over zombies may have a positive influence on many fields of philosophical investigation. (shrink)
Could there be a cognitive zombie – that is, a creature with the capacity for cognition, but no capacity for consciousness? Searle argues that there cannot be a cognitive zombie because there cannot be an intentional zombie: on this view, there is a connection between consciousness and cognition that is derived from a more fundamental connection between consciousness and intentionality. However, I argue that there are good empirical reasons for rejecting the proposed connection between consciousness and intentionality. Instead, I argue (...) that there is a connection between consciousness and cognition that is derived from a more fundamental connection between consciousness and rationality. On this view, there cannot be a cognitive zombie because there cannot be a rational zombie. (shrink)
The conditional analysis of phenomenal concepts, as proposed independently by Hawthorne (2002), Stalnaker (2002) and Braddon-Mitchell (2003), is used to undermine Chalmers’s (1996) conceivability argument in a way that is compatible with our having the zombie intuition. The aim of this paper is twofold: (1) To remove current misconceptions concerning how the analysis is to be applied. It will be explained how there are two distinct ways the analysis can be used to undermine the conceivability argument. (2) To employ this (...) exposition to defend the analysis from objections leveled against it by Chalmers (2005) and Alter (2007). (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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
Case 1: Perhaps the phenomenal facts—facts about what it’s like to see red, or to taste freshly made pesto—do not supervene with metaphysical necessity on the physical facts and physical laws. This might be because the connections between the physical and the phenomenal are entirely unprincipled. Alternatively, it might be because whatever psychophysical laws do govern those connections are contingent. Either way, the claim is that there are metaphysically possible worlds that are just like the actual world in terms of (...) what physical laws hold, and in terms of the distribution of physical properties, but which are phenomenally different from the actual world. In some such worlds, different phenomenal facts obtain. In other such worlds, no phenomenal properties are instantiated at all. Call the latter sort of world a ‘phenomenal zombie world’, or, for short, just a ‘zombie world’. (shrink)
Zombies are hypothetical creatures of the sort that philosophers have been known to cherish. A zombie is physically identical to a normal human being, but completely lacks conscious experience. Zombies look and behave like the conscious beings that we know and love, but "all is dark inside." There is nothing it is like to be a zombie.
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)
This paper explores the idea that many “simple minded” invertebrates are “natural zombies” in that they utilize their senses in intelligent ways, but without phenomenal awareness. The discussion considers how “first-order” representationalist theories of consciousness meet the explanatory challenge posed by blindsight. It would be an advantage of first-order representationalism, over higher-order versions, if it does not rule out consciousness in most non-human animals. However, it is argued that a first-order representationalism which adequately accounts for blindsight also implies that (...) most non-mammals are not conscious. The example of the honey bee is used to illuminate these claims. Although there is some reason to think that bees have simple beliefs and desires, nevertheless, their visually-mediated cognizing is comparable to that of an animal with blindsight. There is also reason to think that the study of blindsight can also help determine how consciousness is distributed in the animal world. (shrink)
Zombies are bodies without minds: creatures that are physically identical to actual human beings, but which have no conscious experience. Much of the consciousness literature focuses on considering how threatening philosophical reflection on such creatures is to physicalism. There is not much attention given to the converse possibility, the possibility of minds without bodies, that is, creatures who are conscious but whose nature is exhausted by their being conscious. We can call such a ‘purely conscious’ creature a ghost.
Many philosophers accept the conceivability of zombies: creatures that lack consciousness but are physically and functionally identical to conscious human beings. Many also believe that the conceivability of zombies supports their metaphysical possibility. And most agree that if zombies are metaphysically possible, then physicalism is false. So, the claim that zombies are conceivable may have considerable significance.1.
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.
A philosophical zombie is a being physically indistinguishable from an actual or possible human being, inhabiting a possible world where the _physical_ laws are identical to the laws of the actual world, but which completely lacks consciousness. For zombies, all is dark within, and hence they are, at the most fundamental level, utterly different from us. But, given their definition, this singular fact has no direct implications about the kind of motion, or other physical processes, the zombie will undergo (...) within its own world. Under quite standard physicalist assumptions, such as certain assumptions about the 'initial conditions' of the zombie's world and that of the causal closure of the physical. (shrink)
David Robb (2008). Zombies From Below. In Simone Gozzano Francesco Orilia (ed.), Tropes, Universals, and the Philosophy of Mind: Essays at the Boundary of Ontology and Philosophical Psychology. Ontos Verlag.score: 12.0
A zombie is a creature just like a conscious being in certain respects, but wholly lacking in consciousness. In this paper, I look at zombies from the perspective of basic ontology (“from below”), taking as my starting point a trope ontology I have defended elsewhere. The consequences of this ontology for zombies are mixed. Viewed from below, one sort of zombie—the exact dispositional zombie—is impossible. A similar argument can be wielded against another sort—the exact physical zombie—but here supplementary (...) principles are needed to get to the impossibility result. Finally, at least two sorts of zombie—the behavioural and functional zombies—escape these arguments from below. (shrink)
If zombies were conceivable in the sense relevant to the ‘conceivability argument’ against physicalism, a certain epiphenomenalistic conception of consciousness—the ‘e-qualia story’—would also be conceivable. But (it is argued) the e-qualia story is not conceivable because it involves a contradiction. The non-physical ‘e-qualia’ supposedly involved could not perform cognitive processing, which would therefore have to be performed by physical processes; and these could not put anyone into ‘epistemic contact’ with e-qualia, contrary to the e-qualia story. Interactionism does not enable (...) zombists to escape these conclusions. (shrink)
Zombies, as conceived by philosophers these days, are supposed to be creatures that are physically indistinguishable from normal people that nevertheless completely lack phenomenal consciousness. The kind of zombie I want to focus on is one that is molecule- by-molecule identical to a healthy, normal, adult human being living in a world physically like ours — indeed this might be our own actual world. To make things more concrete, pick any such person that you actually know. Let this be (...) John. John is not a zombie. Now consider an exact, perfect, physical replica of John, call him Zhon. Note that because John and Zhon are physically alike, they are also behaviorally and functionally alike. So if you were to encounter Zhon, you could not distinguish him from John. Under the imagined circumstances so far, you would normally expect Zhon to be conscious as well. But let’s stipulate that Zhon has no conscious experiences whatsoever — he’s never had them, nor will he ever have them. So Zhon, according to this stipulation, doesn’t know — indeed cannot know — what it is like to have conscious experiences of any kind. There is nothing it is like to be Zhon. Zhon lacks conscious phenomenology altogether. If Zhon were to be a metaphysically possible creature, he would be a zombie.1 So this is the notion of zombie I would like to focus on. According to many philosophers, Zhon is a possible creature, and that is because Zhon is a conceivable creature. This gives us the argument from zombies against physicalism. Physicalism is the doctrine that says: all that exist is physical through and through, including conscious minds and their conscious experiences. The zombie argument, as we might call it, is a species of conceivability arguments: 1. If Zhon is conceivable, then Zhon is possible. 2. Zhon is conceivable. 3. Hence, Zhon is possible. Now since the choice of Zhon was arbitrary, we can, of course, generalize the argument to all zombies like Zhon — that is, to zombies that are physically indistinguishable, in relevant respects, to healthy, normal, adult human beings.. (shrink)
Zombies recently conjured by Searle and others threaten civilized (i.e., materialistic) philosophy of mind and scientific psychology as we know it. Humanoid beings that behave like us and may share our functional organizations and even, perhaps, our neurophysiological makeups without qualetative conscious experiences, zombies seem to meet every materialist condition for thought on offer and yet -- the wonted intuitions go -- are still disqualefied (disqualified for lack of qualia) from being thinking things. I have a plan. Other (...)zombies -- good (qualia eating) zombies -- can battle their evil (behavior eating) cousins to a standoff. Perhaps even defeat them. Familiar zombies and supersmart zombies resist disqualefication, making the world safe, again, for materialism. Behavioristic materialism. Alas for functionalism, good zombies still eat programs. Alas for identity theory, all zombies -- every B movie fan knows -- eat brains. (shrink)
RÉSUMÉ: Cette étude examine la relation entre la demande que les zombies sont logiquement/métaphysiquement possible et de la position que la conscience phénoménal est epiphenomenal. Il est souvent présumé que la première entraîne ce dernier, et que, par conséquent, toute implausibility dans la notion de conscience epiphenomenalism remet en question la possibilité réelle de zombies. Quatre façons dont les zombist pourrait répondre sont examinées, et je soutiens que les deux les plus fréquemment rencontrés sont insuffisantes, mais les autres—dont (...) l’un est rarement formulés et l’autre nouveaux—sont plus persuasif. Le résultat, cependant, est que le zombist pourraient en effet être confronté à un engagement indésirables à l’epiphenomenalism de conscience. (shrink)
According to the zombie conceivability argument, phenomenal zombies are conceivable, and hence possible, and hence physicalism is false. Critics of the conceivability argument have responded by denying either that zombies are conceivable or that they are possible. Much of the controversy hinges on how to establish and understand what is conceivable, what is possible, and the link between the two—matters that are at least as obscure and controversial as whether consciousness is physical. Because of this, the debate over (...) physicalism is unlikely to be resolved by thinking about zombies—or at least, zombies as discussed by philosophers to date.
In this paper, I explore an alternative strategy against the zombie conceivability argument. I accept the possibility of zombies and ask whether that possibility is accessible (in the sense of ‘accessible’ used in possible world semantics) to our world. It turns out that the question of whether zombie worlds are accessible to our world is equivalent to the question of whether physicalism is true. By assuming that zombie worlds are accessible to our world, supporters of the zombie conceivability argument beg the question against physicalists. I will then consider what happens if a supporter of the zombie conceivability argument should insist that zombie worlds are accessible to our world. I will argue that the same ingredients used in the zombie conceivability argument—whatever they might be—can be used to construct an argument to the opposite conclusion. If that is correct, we reach a stalemate between physicalism and property dualism: while the possibility of some zombies entails property dualism, the possibility of other creatures entails physicalism. Since these two possibilities are inconsistent, one of them is not genuine. To resolve this stalemate, we need more than thought experiments. (shrink)
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 consciousness. His second aim of the book is to construct a theory of perceptual-phenomenal consciousness that avoids this contradiction. (shrink)
Reflection on skeptical scenarios in the philosophy of perception, made vivid in the arguments from illusion and hallucination, have led to the formulation of theories of the metaphysical and epistemological nature of perceptual experience. In recent times, the locus of the debate concerning the nature of perceptual experience has been the dispute between disjunctivists and common-kind theorists. Disjunctivists have held that there are substantial dissimilarities (either metaphysical or epistemological or both) between veridical perceptual experiences occurring when one perceives and perceptual (...) experiences involved in hallucination. Common-kind theorists have denied this. In this paper, I examine the nature of introspection – a faculty that has often been compared and contrasted to perception. I reflect on cases where introspection goes wrong in ways analogous to that in which our perceptual faculties can go wrong and formulate, what I take to be, an attractive theory of introspection. The cases that I focus on in which things go wrong are the case of zombies and the case of subjects with Anton’s syndrome. (Anton’s syndrome is a condition in which people who are blind claim that they can see.) I suggest that, just as it is possible to be a disjunctivist about perception, it is possible to be a disjunctivist about introspection. I argue that this is a good view of one type of introspection, namely, introspection of states that have phenomenal character, such as perceptual experiences. It has a good account to give of the cases in which such introspection seems to go wrong and it yields a plausible metaphysical and epistemological view of the nature of introspection. However, while I favour a disjunctive view of introspection, I do not favour a disjunctive view of perception. And, I suspect, that many disjunctivists about perception would not wish to condone my disjunctivist theory of introspection. I therefore go on to examine to what extent.. (shrink)
A philosophical zombie is a being indistinguishable from an ordinary human in every observable respect, but lacking subjective consciousness. Zombiehood implies *linguistic indiscriminability*, the zombie tendency to talk and even do philosophy of mind in language indiscriminable from ordinary discourse. Zombies thus speak *Zombish*, indistinguishable from English but radically distinct in reference for mental terms. The fate of zombies ultimately depends on whether Zombish can be consistently interpreted. If it can be interpreted consistently, then zombies remain possible, (...) but no test could ever reveal whether anyone (oneself included) is speaking Zombish. Any materialist theory of consciousness is therefore already a theory in Zombish, and is equally confirmable in its human language edition (applicable to humans) and its zombie-language edition (applicable to zombies). On the other hand, if Zombish cannot be consistently interpreted, then the zombies described in Zombish are logically impossible. Either way, the search for a materialistic theory of consciousness should be untroubled by the (possible) zombies among us. (shrink)
We imagine Zombies as beings identical to us with respect to all physical and behavioural facts but different with respect to phenomenal facts. For example, zombies might say, just like us, ‘this grapefruit is really sour’ or ‘my left knee hurts’, but, unlike us, they have no phenomenal experiences corresponding to these utterances or to the relevant physical states. The idea of zombies has been used to construct the following argument against the physicalist approach to consciousness.
In his engaging and important paper David Chalmers argues that perhaps the best way to navigate the singularity is for us to integrate with the AI++ agents. One way we might be able to do that is via uploading, which is a process in which we create an exact digital duplicate of our brain. He argues that consciousness is an organizational invariant, which means that a simulation of that property would count as the real thing (a simulation of a computer (...) is a computer, and so being a computer is an organizational invariant). If this is the case then we can rest assured that we will retain our consciousness inside such a simulation. In this commentary I will explore these ideas and their relation to philosophical zombies. I will argue that dualism could be true of the zombie world and that the conclusion of the standard zombie argument needs to be modified to deal with simulation. In short I argue that if one endorses biologism about consciousness then the conceivability of zombies is irrelevant to the physicalism/dualism debate. (shrink)
Philosophical zombies are exactly as physicalists suppose we are, right down to the tiniest details, but they have no conscious experiences. (It is presupposed that all explicable physical events are explicable physically.) Are such things even logically possible? My aim is to contribute to showing not only that the answer is 'No', but why. (I concede that systems superficially like human beings might exist and lack consciousness.) My strategy has two prongs: a fairly brisk argument which demolishes the zombie (...) idea; followed by an attempt to throw light on how something can qualify as a conscious perceiver. The argument to show that zombies are impossible exploits the point that in order to be able to detect our own 'qualia' we should have to be somehow sensitive to them; which the zombie idea rules out. The attempt to make clear why my zombie twin must be conscious exploits the idea that we have a reasonably clear grasp of a 'Basic Package' of psychological concepts. (shrink)
A philosophical zombie is a being physically indistinguishable from an actual or possible human being, inhabiting a possible world where the physical laws are identical to the laws of the actual world, but which completely lacks consciousness. For zombies, all is dark within, and hence they are, at the most fundamental level, utterly different from us. But, given their definition, this singular fact has no direct implications about the kind of motion, or other physical processes, the zombie will undergo (...) within its own world. Under quite standard physicalist assumptions, such as certain assumptions about the 'initial conditions' of the zombie's world and that of the causal closure of the physical1, a zombie's behaviour, as well as its underlying physical state, should be indistinguishable from the behaviour and physical state of a genuine human being. (shrink)
Philosophical (p-) zombies are constructs that possess all of the behavioral features and responses of a sentient human being, yet are not conscious. P-zombies are intimately linked to the hard problem of consciousness and have been invoked as arguments against physicalist approaches. But what if we were to invert the characteristics of p-zombies? Such an inverse (i-) zombie would possess all of the behavioral features and responses of an insensate being yet would nonetheless be conscious. While p- (...) class='Hi'>zombies are logically possible but naturally improbable, an approximation of i-zombies actually exists: individuals experiencing what is referred to as “anesthesia awareness.” Patients under general anesthesia may be intubated (preventing speech), paralyzed (preventing movement), and narcotized (minimizing response to nociceptive stimuli). Thus, they appear—and typically are—unconscious. In 1-2 cases/1000, however, patients may be aware of intraoperative events, sometimes without any objective indices. Furthermore, a much higher percentage of patients (22% in a recent study) may have the subjective experience of dreaming during general anesthesia. P-zombies confront us with the hard problem of consciousness—how do we explain the presence of qualia? I-zombies present a more practical problem—how do we detect the presence of qualia? The current investigation compares p-zombies to i-zombies and explores the “hard problem” of unconsciousness with a focus on anesthesia awareness. (shrink)
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. Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The anti-zombie argument can be stated rather easily. According to the â€˜zombistâ€™ 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 â€˜epistemic accessâ€™ 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 â€˜e-qualiaâ€™. Therefore, we could not have â€˜epistemic accessâ€™ to them. Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â To make this vivid he offers what he calls the â€˜sole-picturesâ€™ argument. Again, consider our zombie world.. (shrink)
One reason for the recent attention to conceivability claims is to be found in the extended use of conceivability in philosophy of mind, and then especially in connection with zombie thought experiments. The idea is that zombies are conceivable; beings that look like us and behave like us in all ways, but for which “all is dark inside;” that is, for a zombie, there is no “what it is like.” There is no “what it is like” to be a (...) zombie, there is no “what it is like” for a zombie to feel pain, there is no “what it is like” for a zombie to taste, or feel, or smell something. They are creatures without consciousness. I am skeptical about the conceivability of zombies. That is not to say that I believe that there is some inherent contradiction to be found in the idea of zombies. Instead, I do not think that I am justified in believing that zombies are conceivable. The focus on justification is not common in the literature on conceivability, or for that matter in the literature on the possibility of zombies. Instead, the focus tends to be on trying to find out whether or not the notion of a zombie is contradictory. It is widely accepted in the literature on conceivability that the absence of a contradiction when conceiving of X is both necessary and sufficient for X to be conceivable. That might be true of ideal conceivability, but as I will argue below, ideal conceivability is not relevant to our (human) pursuit of knowledge and understanding. Further, as I will argue, once we focus on non-ideal conceivability the notion of justification, and degrees of justification comes into play. (shrink)
In the philosophy of mind, zombies often make an appearance. It seems we can conceive of zombies — beings physically exactly like ourselves but lacking conscious experience. There may not actually be any zombies, of course. But the suggestion that they could exist does at least seem to make sense. Or does it? Robert Kirk investigates.
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)
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.