About this topic
Summary Philosophical zombies are physical and behavioral duplicates of normal conscious humans, without consciousness.  The conceivability argument against materialism runs roughly as follows: (1) Zombies are conceivable; (2) If zombies are conceivable, zombies are possible; (3) If zombies are possible, materialism is false; therefore (4) Materialism is false.
Key works Zombies are introduced under that name by Kirk 1974 (Campbell 1970 discusses them under the name "imitation man").  Versions of the conceivability argument are mounted by these authors and developed further using two-dimensional semantics by Chalmers 1996.  Critics who respond by saying that zombies are not conceivable include Dennett 1995Thomas 1998, Braddon-Mitchell 2003, and Kirk 2005.  Critics who respond by saying that conceivability does not entail possibility include Balog 1999, Frankish 2007, Hill 1997, and Yablo 1999Chalmers 2009 responds.
Introductions Kirk 2003; Polger 2001.
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1 — 50 / 338
  1. added 2019-06-17
    Undermining Belief in Consciousness.Justin Clarke-Doane - forthcoming - Journal of Consciousness Studies (special issue).
    Does consciousness exist? In “The Meta-Problem of Consciousness” (MPC) David Chalmers sketches an argument for illusionism, i.e., the view that it does not. The key premise is that it would be a coincidence if our beliefs about consciousness were true, given that the explanation of those beliefs is independent of their truth. In this article, I clarify and assess this argument. I argue that our beliefs about consciousness are peculiarly invulnerable to undermining, whether or not their contents are indubitable or (...)
  2. added 2019-06-06
    Explaining the Qualitative Dimension of Consciousness: Prescission Instead of Reification: Dialogue.Marc Champagne - 2009 - Dialogue 48 (1):145-183.
    This paper suggests that it is largely a want of notional distinctions which fosters the “explanatory gap” that has beset the study of consciousness since T. Nagel’s revival of the topic. Modifying Ned Block’s controversial claim that we should countenance a “phenomenal-consciousness” which exists in its own right, we argue that there is a way to recuperate the intuitions he appeals to without engaging in an onerous reification of the facet in question. By renewing with the full type/token/tone trichotomy developed (...)
  3. added 2019-06-06
    Causal Essentialism Versus the Zombie Worlds.Brian Jonathan Garrett - 2009 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 39 (1):93-112.
  4. added 2019-06-06
    Zombies, Epiphenomenalism, and Physicalist Theories of Consciousness.Andrew Bailey - 2006 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 36 (4):481-509.
    The University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, CANADA.
  5. added 2019-06-06
    Consciousness and ConceivabilityKnowledge, Possibility and Consciousness.David A. Hunter - 2003 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 33 (2):285-304.
    The thesis that anything conceivable is possible plays a central role in philosophical debates about the self. Discussions about free will have focused, at least in the last hundred years, on whether a free yet determined action is conceivable. If it is, and if anything conceivable is possible, then a deterministic physics would by itself pose no obstacle to human freedom. Current debates about the nature and value of personal survival turn on whether it is conceivable for a person to (...)
  6. added 2019-06-06
    Chalmers’s Conceivability Argument for Dualism.Anthony Brueckner - 2001 - Analysis 61 (3):187-93.
  7. added 2019-06-06
    Can Imaginantion Provide Prima Facie Justification for Possibility?: A Problem for Tye.Jamie L. Phillips - 1999 - Southwest Philosophy Review 15 (1):149-156.
  8. added 2019-06-06
    A Problem with Marton’s “Zombies Vs. Materialists: The Battle for Conceivability”.Jamie L. Phillips - 1998 - Southwest Philosophy Review 14 (2):175-178.
  9. added 2019-06-06
    Zombies Versus Materialsts: The Battle for Conceivability.Peter Marton - 1998 - Southwest Philosophy Review 14 (1):131-138.
  10. added 2019-06-06
    Tales From the Crypt: The Night of the Zombie Philosophers.William Maker - 1992 - Metaphilosophy 23 (4):311-328.
  11. added 2019-06-05
    Destabilizing the Knowledge Argument and Modal Argument.Amber Ross - 2017 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 61 (5-6):499-519.
    Several of the most compelling anti-materialist arguments are motivated by the supposed existence of an unbridgeable epistemic gap between first-person subjective knowledge about one’s own conscious experience and third-personally acquired knowledge. The two with which this paper is concerned are Frank Jackson’s ‘knowledge argument’ and David Chalmers’s ‘modal argument’. The knowledge argument and the modal argument are often taken to function as ‘two sides of the same coin … in principle each succeeds on its own, but in practice they work (...)
  12. added 2019-06-05
    Qualia, Properties, Modality.Brian Loar - 2003 - Philosophical Issues 13 (1):113-129.
  13. added 2019-05-12
    Two 'Mind-Body' Problems in Descartes and Husserl (MA Thesis).Andrii Leonov - 2019 - Dissertation,
    The main theme of this Thesis is the mind-body problem in Descartes and Husserl. Firstly, the author of this work is dealing with problem through the prism of his own approach. Thus, instead one mind-body problem, the author of this work claims that there are two: the first is ontological (mind-brain relation), while the second is the conceptual one (‘mind’ and ‘body’ as concepts). In Descartes’ Meditations, the ontological level of the problem is explicit, when the conceptual level is implicit. (...)
  14. added 2019-04-29
    Two Conceivability Arguments Compared.Daniel Stoljar - 2007 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 107 (1pt1):27-44.
    The conclusion of this argument entails the falsity of physicalism because, technical details aside, physicalism is or entails the thesis that every psychological truth is entailed by some physical truth. If it is possible that I have a zombie duplicate however, then it is possible that the physical truths are as they are and some psychological truth is different. Hence 3 entails that physicalism is false. The second conceivability argument is one that is almost as famous, though perhaps it is (...)
  15. added 2019-03-22
    Conceivability Arguments.Katalin Balog - 1998 - Dissertation, Rutgers University
    The dissertation addresses the mind-body problem, and in particular, the problem of how to fit phenomenal consciousness into the rest of reality. Phenomenal consciousness - the what it’s like feature of experience - can appear to the scientifically inclined philosopher to be deeply mysterious. It is difficult to understand how the swirl of atoms in the void, the oscillation of field values, the firing of synapses, or anything physical can add up to the smells, tastes, feelings, moods, and so forth (...)
  16. added 2018-12-24
    Consciousness and the End of Materialism: Seeking Identity and Harmony in a Dark Era.Spyridon Kakos - 2018 - International Journal of Theology, Philosophy and Science 2 (2):17-33.
    “I am me”, but what does this mean? For centuries humans identified themselves as conscious beings with free will, beings that are important in the cosmos they live in. However, modern science has been trying to reduce us into unimportant pawns in a cold universe and diminish our sense of consciousness into a mere illusion generated by lifeless matter. Our identity in the cosmos is nothing more than a deception and all the scientific evidence seem to support this idea. Or (...)
  17. added 2018-12-17
    Semantic Gaps and Protosemantics.Benj Hellie - forthcoming - In Acacio de Barros & Carlos Montemayor (eds.), Mind and Quanta. Berlin: Springer.
    Semantic gaps between physical and mental discourse include the 'explanatory', 'epistemic' (Black-and-White Mary), and 'suppositional' (zombies) gaps; protosemantics is concerned with what is fundamental to meaning. Our tradition presupposes a truth-based protosemantics, with disastrous consequences for interpreting the semantic gaps: nonphysicalism, epiphenomenalism, separatism. Fortunately, an endorsement-based protosemantics, recentering meaning from the world to the mind, is technically viable, intuitively more plausible, and empirically more adequate. But, of present significance, it makes room for interpreting mental discourse as expressing simulations: this blocks (...)
  18. added 2018-12-03
    "Арґумент зомбі" проти матеріалізму: основи та перспективи подальшого дослідження.Andrii Leonov - 2017 - Philosophical Thought 3 (3):57-77.
    The paper deals with the main argument against the doctrine of Materialism and the heart of the mind-body problem — the Zombie argument. The main proponent of the idea of philosophical zombies is the Australian philosopher David Chalmers, whose main opus 'The Conscious Mind' is wholly based on the idea of conceivability and logical possibility of zombies. The author aims to show that for the adequate analysis of Chalmers' zombie argument, the frame of the Analytic philosophy alone is not sufficient, (...)
  19. added 2018-12-03
    Роберт Кірк: засновник філософських зомбі.Andrii Leonov - 2016 - Philosophical Thought 2 (2):71-77.
    At first, I shortly analyze the origins of Kirk's zombie argument (I'm talking about Descartes and epiphenomenalism). Then, I analyze his 1974 papers "Sentience and Behaviour" and "Zombies v. Materialists". And, in the end, I conclude that nevertheless Robert Kirk is the founder of a zombie argument and defended the view according to which zombies are logically possible, aftewards he became an "anti-zombist".
  20. added 2018-10-30
    Essentialist Modal Rationalism.Philip Goff - forthcoming - Synthese:1-9.
    In my recent book Consciousness and Fundamental Reality, I proposed a principle linking rational coherence and metaphysical possibility, as part of an argument against physicalism. Although it was not the focus of concern in this book, I had hoped that that principle might undergird a generalised account of our knowledge of modality. I have subsequently realised, however, that that principle has limited application, in a way that conflicts with these broader ambitions. In this paper I will outline these limitations and (...)
  21. added 2018-06-13
    Can the Russellian Monist Escape the Epiphenomenalist’s Paradox?Lok-Chi Chan - forthcoming - Topoi:1-10.
    Russellian monism—an influential doctrine proposed by Russell (The analysis of matter, Routledge, London, 1927/1992)—is roughly the view that physics can only ever tell us about the causal, dispositional, and structural properties of physical entities and not their categorical (or intrinsic) properties, whereas our qualia are constituted by those categorical properties. In this paper, I will discuss the relation between Russellian monism and a seminal paradox facing epiphenomenalism, the paradox of phenomenal judgment: if epiphenomenalism is true—qualia are causally inefficacious—then any judgment (...)
  22. added 2018-06-10
    Chalmersin argumentti materialismia vastaan.Panu Raatikainen - forthcoming - Ajatus 75.
    Artikkelissa tarkastellaan perusteellisesti ja kriittisesti David Chalmersin vaikutusvaltaista fenomenaaliseen tietoisuuden liittyvää argumenttia materialismia vastaan. Argumentissa tunnistetaan useampikin kuin yksi heikko lenkki.
  23. added 2018-06-05
    Dualism: How Epistemic Issues Drive Debates About the Ontology of Consciousness.Brie Gertler - forthcoming - In Uriah Kriegel (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Consciousness. Oxford University Press.
    A primary goal of this chapter is to highlight neglected epistemic parallels between dualism and physicalism. Both dualist and physicalist arguments employ a combination of empirical data and armchair reflection; both rely on considerations stemming from how we conceptualize certain phenomena; and both aim to establish views that are compatible with scientific results but go well beyond the deliverances of empirical science. -/- I begin the chapter by fleshing out the distinctive commitments of dualism, in a way that illuminates the (...)
  24. added 2018-05-31
    A Properly Physical Russellian Physicalism.Christopher Devlin Brown - 2017 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 24 (11-12):31-50.
    Russellian physicalism has the promise of answering all the typical challenges that non-physicalists have issued against standard versions of physicalism, while not giving up physicalism's commitment to the non-existence of fundamental mentality. However, it has been argued that Russellian physicalism must endorse the existence of physically unacceptable protomental properties in order to address these challenges, which would mean giving up on a core physicalist tenet of keeping the fundamental realm untainted by a special relationship to mentality. Against this, I argue (...)
  25. added 2018-05-20
    Imagining Zombies.Casey Woodling - 2014 - Disputatio 6 (38):107-116.
    Philosophers have argued that the conceivability of philosophical zom- bies creates problems for physicalism. In response, it has been argued that zombies are not conceivable. Eric Marcus (2004), for example, challenges the conceivability claim. Torin Alter (2007) argues that Marcus’s argument rests on an overly restrictive principle of imagina- tion. I agree that the argument relies on an overly restrictive principle of imagination, but argue that Alter has not put his finger on the right one. In short, Marcus’s argument fails, (...)
  26. added 2018-02-17
    Consciousness and Fundamental Reality.Philip Goff - 2017 - New York, USA: Oup Usa.
    The first half of this book argues that physicalism cannot account for consciousness, and hence cannot be true. The second half explores and defends Russellian monism, a radical alternative to both physicalism and dualism. The view that emerges combines panpsychism with the view that the universe as a whole is fundamental.
  27. added 2018-02-17
    Property Dualism, Epistemic Normativity, and the Limits of Naturalism.Christian Onof - 2008 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 76 (1):60-85.
    This paper examines some consequences of the (quasi-)epiphenomenalism implied by a property dualistic view of phenomenal consciousness. The focus is upon the variation of phenomenal content over time. A thought-experiment is constructed to support two claims. The weaker claim exhibits an incompatibility which arises in certain logically possible situations between a conscious subject’s epistemic norms and the requirement that one be aware of one’s conscious experience. This could be interpreted as providing some epistemic grounds for the postulation of bridging laws (...)
  28. added 2018-01-13
    Panpsychism’s Combination Problem Is a Problem for Everyone.Angela Mendelovici - 2019 - In William Seager (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Panpsychism. London, UK: Routledge.
    Panpsychism—the view that the phenomenal experiences of macrophysical items, like ourselves, are nothing over and above combinations of phenomenal experiences of microphysical items—seems to be committed to various sorts of mental combination: in order to yield experiences such as our own, it seems that experiences, subjects, and phenomenal characters would have to mentally combine to yield new experiences, new subjects, and new phenomenal characters. The combination problem for panpsychism is that of explaining precisely how the required forms of mental combination (...)
  29. added 2017-10-14
    Ideal Reasoners Don’T Believe in Zombies.Danilo Fraga Dantas - 2017 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 21 (1):41-59.
    The negative zombie argument concludes that physicalism is false from the premises that p ∧¬q is ideally negatively conceivable and that what is ideally negatively conceivable is possible, where p is the conjunction of the fundamental physical truths and laws and q is a phenomenal truth (Chalmers 2002; 2010). A sentence φ is ideally negatively conceivable iff φ is not ruled out a priori on ideal rational reflection. In this paper, I argue that the negative zombie argument is neither a (...)
  30. added 2017-10-05
    The Conceivability of Naturalism.Crispin Wright - 2002 - In Tamar S. Gendler (ed.), Conceivability and Possibility. Oxford University Press. pp. 401--439.
  31. added 2017-09-20
    Concepts and Consciousness.Stephen Yablo - 1999 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 59 (2):455-463.
    I. The Conscious Mind is a hugely likable book. Perceptive, candid, and instructive page by page, the work as a whole sets out a large and uplifting vision with cheeringly un-Dover-Beach-ish implications for “our place in the universe.” A book that you can’t helping wanting to believe as much as you can’t help wanting to believe this one doesn’t come along every day. It is with real regret that I proceed to the story of why belief would not come.
  32. added 2017-09-13
    Mind, Modality, and Meaning: Toward a Rationalist Physicalism.Gabriel Oak Rabin - 2013 - Dissertation, University of California Los Angeles
    This dissertation contains four independent essays addressing a cluster of related topics in the philosophy of mind. Chapter 1: “Fundamentality Physicalism” argues that physicalism can usefully be conceived of as a thesis about fundamentality. The chapter explores a variety of other potential formulations of physicalism (particularly modal formulations), contrasts fundamentality physicalism with these theses, and offers reasons to prefer fundamentality physicalism over these rivals. Chapter 2:“Modal Rationalism and the Demonstrative Reply to the Master Argument Against Physicalism” introduces the Master Argument (...)
  33. added 2017-08-23
    An Emergentist Argument for the Impossibility of Zombie Duplicates.Reinaldo Bernal - 2016 - Working Papers Series - FMSH.
    Some influential arguments in the metaphysics of consciousness, in particular Chalmers’ Zombie Argument, suppose that all the physical properties of composed physical systems are metaphysically necessitated by their fundamental constituents. In this paper I argue against this thesis in order to debate Chalmers’ argument. By discussing, in non-technical terms, an EPR system I try to show that there are good reasons to hold that some composed physical systems have properties which are nomologically necessitated by their fundamental constituents, i.e., which emerge (...)
  34. added 2017-08-23
    E-PHYSICALISM - A PHYSICALIST THEORY OF PHENOMENAL CONSCIOUSNESS.Reinaldo J. Bernal - 2012 - Frankfurt, Germany: Ontos Verlag.
    This work advances a theory in the metaphysics of phenomenal consciousness, which the author labels “e-physicalism”. Firstly, he endorses a realist stance towards consciousness and physicalist metaphysics. Secondly, he criticises Strong AI and functionalist views, and claims that consciousness has an internal character. Thirdly, he discusses HOT theories, the unity of consciousness, and holds that the “explanatory gap” is not ontological but epistemological. Fourthly, he argues that consciousness is not a supervenient but an emergent property, not reducible and endowed with (...)
  35. added 2017-07-27
    Phenomenal, Normative, and Other Explanatory Gaps: A General Diagnosis.Neil Mehta - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 98 (3):567-591.
    I assume that there exists a general phenomenon, the phenomenon of the explanatory gap, surrounding consciousness, normativity, intentionality, and more. Explanatory gaps are often thought to foreclose reductive possibilities wherever they appear. In response, reductivists who grant the existence of these gaps have offered countless local solutions. But typically such reductivist responses have had a serious shortcoming: because they appeal to essentially domain-specific features, they cannot be fully generalized, and in this sense these responses have been not just local but (...)
  36. added 2017-03-13
    Vagueness and Zombies: Why ‘Phenomenally Conscious’ has No Borderline Cases.Jonathan Simon - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (8):2105-2123.
    I argue that there can be no such thing as a borderline case of the predicate ‘phenomenally conscious’: for any given creature at any given time, it cannot be vague whether that creature is phenomenally conscious at that time. I first defend the Positive Characterization Thesis, which says that for any borderline case of any predicate there is a positive characterization of that case that can show any sufficiently competent speaker what makes it a borderline case. I then appeal to (...)
  37. added 2017-02-15
    Commentary in Symposium on Chalmers= The Conscious Mind. Forthcoming In.Sydney Shoemaker - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
  38. added 2017-02-15
    David Chalmers Interview.James Garvey - 2014 - The Philosophers' Magazine 64:64-71.
  39. added 2017-02-15
    David Chalmers Versus the Boll Weevil.Mark Wilson - 2014 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 89 (1):238-248.
  40. added 2017-02-14
    Zombie Economics: How Dead Ideas Still Walk Among Us.John Quiggin - 2010 - Princeton University Press.
    But the book contributes much more. Its discussion of how macroeconomics developed, and the ideology that has grown up around it, is every bit as important and interesting."--Mark Thoma, University of Oregon "This is a terrific book.
  41. added 2017-02-13
    Refuting Kripke: The Modal Arguments and the Epistemic Arguments.Rm Harnish - 1992 - Conceptus: Zeitschrift Fur Philosophie 26 (68-69):79-95.
  42. added 2017-02-12
    David Chalmers' Argument for `Property Dualism''.Daniel Bratcher - 1999 - Philosophy Today 43 (3):292-301.
  43. added 2017-02-10
    Consciousness Regained? Philosophical Arguments for and Against Reductive Physicalism.Thomas Kurt Sturm - 2012 - Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience 14 (1):55-63.
    This paper is an overview of recent discussions concerning the mind–body problem that have been taking place at the interface between philosophy and neuroscience. In it I focus on phenomenal consciousness or “qualia”, which I distinguish from various related issues (sections 1-2). I then discuss various influential skeptical arguments that question the possibility of reductive explanations of qualia in physicalist terms: knowledge arguments, conceivability arguments, the argument from multiple realizability and the explanatory gap argument. None of the arguments is found (...)
  44. added 2017-02-09
    On David Chalmers’s The Conscious Mind. [REVIEW]Sydney Shoemaker - 1999 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 59 (2):439 - 444.
    One does not have to agree with the main conclusions of David Chalmers’s book in order to find it stimulating, instructive, and frequently brilliant. If Chalmers’s arguments succeed, his achievement will of course be enormous; he will have overthrown the materialist orthodoxy that has reigned in philosophy of mind and cognitive science for the last half century. If, as I think, they fail, his achievement is nevertheless considerable. For his arguments draw on, and give forceful and eloquent expression to, widely (...)
  45. added 2017-02-09
    David Chalmers’s The Conscious Mind. [REVIEW]Brian Loar - 1999 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 59 (2):465-472.
    David Chalmers’s book is impressive in many ways. I admire the great skill, incisiveness and breadth of vision with which he conducts his argument. Many of his controversial theses and intuitions I find congenial. Unfortunately I do not believe the book’s central thesis, namely, that facts about consciousness are not physical facts. Much of the book is devoted either to establishing this, or to considering how things stand in the light of it. Let me quote a passage in which Chalmers’s (...)
  46. added 2017-02-09
    Interview with David Chalmers (Pt. 1).Andrew Chrucky - 1998 - Philosophy Now 21:7-9.
  47. added 2017-02-08
    To Appear in the Journal of Consciousness Studies.Daniel Stoljar - unknown
    There is at least one element in Strawson’s extremely rich paper that seems to me be correct and important, and Strawson is absolutely right to bring it out. This is the point that people in philosophy of mind go around assuming that they know what the physical facts are, if not in detail then in outline: “…they think they know a lot about the nature of the physical” (p.2). This assumption is false, or at any rate implausible, or at any (...)
  48. added 2017-02-07
    The Q Factor: Modal Rationalism Versus Modal Autonomism.Joseph Levine - 2010 - Philosophical Review 119 (3):365-380.
    Type-B materialists (to use David Chalmers's jargon) claim that though zombies are conceivable, they are not metaphysically possible. This article calls this position regarding the relation between metaphysical and epistemic modality “modal autonomism,” as opposed to the “modal rationalism” endorsed by David Chalmers and Frank Jackson, who insist on a deep link between the two forms of modality. This article argues that the defense of modal rationalism presented in Chalmers and Jackson (2001) begs the question against the type-B materialist/modal autonomist. (...)
  49. added 2017-02-07
    Book Review of D. Chalmers The Conscious Mind. [REVIEW]G. O'Brien - unknown
  50. added 2017-02-06
    Taking Referentialism Seriously: A Response to the Modal Argument.Brendan O'sullivan - 2010 - Theoria 76 (1):54-67.
    I argue that an identity theorist can successfully resist a Kripkean modal argument by employing what I call a metaconceptual move. Furthermore, by showing how this move fails to apply straightforwardly to Chalmers' argument, I clarify the nature of the threat presented by Chalmers and how it differs from a Kripkean modal argument.
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