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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. added 2020-09-12
    Necessarily, Probably I am not a Zombie / Necessariamente, Provavelmente não sou um Zumbi.Danilo Fraga Dantas - 2018 - Intuitio 11 (1):19-32.
    ENGLISH: The negative zombie argument has as premises that p∧¬q is ideally negatively conceivable, that what is ideally negatively conceivable is possible, and that Physicalism is incompatible with p∧¬q being possible and as conclusion that Physicalism is false. In the argument, p is the conjunction of the fundamental physical truths and laws and q is an arbitrary phenomenal truth. A sentence φ is ideally negatively conceivable if and only if an ideal reasoner does not believe that ¬φ on a priori (...)
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  2. added 2020-08-14
    The Modal Argument Improved.Brian Cutter - forthcoming - Analysis.
    The modal argument against materialism, in its most standard form, relies on a compatibility thesis to the effect that the physical truths are compatible with the absence of consciousness. I propose an alternative modal argument that relies instead on an incompatibility thesis: the existence of consciousness is incompatible with the claim that the physical truths provide (in a sense to be clarified) a complete description of reality. I show that the revised modal argument is strictly superior to the standard modal (...)
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  3. added 2020-08-10
    Why Nearly Everything Is Knowable A Priori.Brian Cutter - 2020 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 101 (1):80-100.
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, EarlyView.
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  4. added 2020-08-10
    Against the Middle Ground: Why Russellian Monism is Unstable.Brian Cutter - 2019 - Analytic Philosophy 60 (2):109-129.
  5. added 2020-07-05
    Panpsychism and Non-Standard Materialism: Some Comparative Remarks.Daniel Stoljar - 2020 - In William Seager (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Panpsychism. New York, NY, USA:
    Much of contemporary philosophy of mind is marked by a dissatisfaction with the two main positions in the field, standard materialism and standard dualism, and hence with the search for alternatives. My concern in this paper is with two such alternatives. The first, which I will call non-standard materialism, is a position I have defended in a number of places, and which may take various forms. The second, panpsychism, has been defended and explored by a number of recent writers. My (...)
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  6. added 2020-07-04
    The Epistemic Approach to the Problem of Consciousness.Daniel Stoljar - 2020 - In Uriah Kriegel (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Consciousness. Oxford, UK:
  7. added 2020-07-04
    Philip Goff: Consciousness and Fundamental Reality. [REVIEW]Daniel Stoljar - 2018 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 1.
    This is a review of Philip Goff's *Consciousness and Fundamental Reality*.
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  8. added 2020-06-20
    Précis of Ignorance and Imagination.Daniel Stoljar - 2009 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 79 (3):748-755.
    The main point of Ignorance and Imagination (I&I) is to set out and defend what I call the 'epistemic view' of the consciousness problem in philosophy of mind. (It might also be called, and has been called, the 'incomplete knowledge view' (cf. Chalmers 2002) and the 'missing concept view' (cf. Stoljar 2005).) According to this view, the best (i.e. most reasonable) response to the problem is to suppose that we are ignorant of a certain type of physical or non-experiential truth. (...)
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  9. added 2020-06-19
    Chalmers V Chalmers.Daniel Stoljar - 2020 - Noûs 54 (2):469-487.
    This paper brings out an inconsistency between David Chalmers's dualism, which is the main element of his philosophy of mind, and his structuralism, which is the main element of his epistemology. The point is ad hominem , but the inconsistency if it can be established is of considerable independent interest. For the best response to the inconsistency, I argue, is to adopt what Chalmers calls ‘type‐C Materialism’, a version of materialism that has been much discussed in recent times because of (...)
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  10. added 2020-06-16
    The Two-Dimensional Argument Against Materialism and its Semantic Premise.Karol Polcyn - 2011 - Diametros 29:80-92.
    David Chalmers argues that zombies are possible because they are ideally conceivable and that therefore consciousness does not supervene on the physical. In this paper I discuss the most influential criticism of the conceivability-possibility principle in the current literature. According to that criticism, the conceivability-possibility principle is unjustified because it depends on a certain unjustified assumption concerning the semantic conditions under which necessary statements can be true a posteriori, namely that a posteriority is due to contingency at the reference-fixing level, (...)
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  11. added 2020-06-16
    The Two-Dimensional Argument Against Materialism.David Chalmers - 2009 - In Brian P. McLaughlin & Sven Walter (eds.), Oxford Handbook to the Philosophy of Mind. Oxford University Press.
    A number of popular arguments for dualism start from a premise about an epistemic gap between physical truths about truths about consciousness, and infer an ontological gap between physical processes and consciousness. Arguments of this sort include the conceivability argument, the knowledge argument, the explanatory-gap argument, and the property dualism argument. Such arguments are often resisted on the grounds that epistemic premises do not entail ontological conclusion. My view is that one can legitimately infer ontological conclusions from epistemic premises, if (...)
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  12. added 2020-06-16
    Two-Dimensionalism and the Metaphysical Possibility of Zombies.Daniel Cohnitz - 2003 - In B. Löwe, W. Malzkorn & T. Räsch (eds.), Foundations of The Formal Sciences II. Applications of Mathematical Logic in Philosophy and Linguistics [Trends in Logic]. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 55--62.
  13. added 2020-06-16
    Modal Epistemology and the Rationalist Renaissance.George Bealer - 2002 - In Tamar Szabo Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Conceivability and Possibility. Oxford University Press. pp. 71-125.
    The paper begins with a clarification of the notions of intuition (and, in particular, modal intuition), modal error, conceivability, metaphysical possibility, and epistemic possibility. It is argued that two-dimensionalism is the wrong framework for modal epistemology and that a certain nonreductionist approach to the theory of concepts and propositions is required instead. Finally, there is an examination of moderate rationalism’s impact on modal arguments in the philosophy of mind -- for example, Yablo’s disembodiment argument and Chalmers’s zombie argument. A less (...)
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  14. added 2020-06-03
    Why There Couldn't Be Zombies.Robert Kirk - 1999 - The Philosophers' Magazine 8 (8):27-28.
  15. added 2020-06-03
    Zombies V. Materialists.Robert Kirk & Roger Squires - 1974 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 48:135-163.
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  16. added 2020-04-19
    Phenomenal Consciousness.Manas Kumar Sahu - 2020 - Journal of Advances in Education and Philosophy 4 (4):160-166.
    The objective of this paper is to defend the non-reductive thesis of phenomenal consciousness. This paper will give an overview of the arguments for the non-reductive explanation of phenomenal consciousness and justify why the reductionist approach is implausible in the context of explaining phenomenal subjective experience. The debate between reductionist and non-reductionist on the project of Demystifying and Mystifying phenomenal consciousness is driven by two fundamental assumptions-1) Reductive-Naturalistic Objectivism, 2) Phenomenal Realism. There are several arguments for the irreducibility of phenomenal (...)
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  17. added 2020-04-16
    Modal Arguments Against Materialism.Michael Pelczar - forthcoming - Noûs.
  18. added 2020-03-17
    The Two-Dimensional Argument Against Physicalism and the Conceptual Analysis.Daniel Kostic - 2011 - Belgrade Philosophical Annual 24:05-17.
    This paper is divided into three sections. In the first section I briefly outline the background of the problem, i.e. Kripke’s modal argument (Kripke 1980). In the second section I present Chalmers’ account of two- dimensional semantics and two-dimensional argument against physicalism. In the third section I criticize Chalmers’ approach based on two crucial points, one is about necessity of identities and the other is about microphysi- cal descriptions and a priori derivation.
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  19. added 2020-02-23
    Material Through and Through.Andrew M. Bailey - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (8):2431-2450.
    Materialists about human persons think that we are material through and through—wholly material beings. Those who endorse materialism more widely think that everything is material through and through. But what is it to be wholly material? In this article, I answer that question. I identify and defend a definition or analysis of ‘wholly material’.
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  20. added 2020-01-31
    Consciousness, Conceivability, and Intrinsic Reduction.Jonathon VandenHombergh - 2018 - Erkenntnis:1-23.
    Conceivability arguments constitute a serious threat against reductive physicalism. Recently, a number of authors have proven and characterized a devastating logical truth, (IN), centered on these arguments: namely, that their soundness entails the inconceivability of reductive physicalism. In this paper, I demonstrate that IN is only a logical truth when reductive physicalism is interpreted in its stronger, intrinsic sense, as opposed to its weaker—yet considerably more popular—extrinsic sense. The basic idea generalizes: perhaps surprisingly, stronger forms of reduction are uniquely resistant (...)
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  21. added 2020-01-31
    Inconceivable Physicalism.Jonathon VandenHombergh - 2017 - Analysis 77 (1):116-125.
    Using his two-dimensional semantics, I demonstrate that David Chalmers’s 2010 ‘two-dimensional argument against materialism’ is sound only if a wide swath of reductive physicalist theses – crucially, those involving identity and other intrinsic reductive relations – are inconceivable. 2DA therefore begs the question against its opponents and undermines its argumentative relevance. Comparisons are drawn to similar arguments in Marton and Sturgeon; the present account differs in its formal and philosophical simplicity, as well as its specific application to reductivist doctrines beyond (...)
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  22. added 2019-08-17
    Epistemic Gaps and the Mind-Body Problem.Thomas Foerster - 2019 - Dissertation, Cornell University
    This dissertation defends materialism from the epistemic arguments against materialism. Materialism is the view that everything is ultimately physical. The epistemic arguments against materialism claim that there is an epistemic gap between physical and phenomenal truths (for example, that knowing the physical truths does not put you in a position to know the phenomenal truths), and conclude from this that there is a corresponding gap in the world between physical and phenomenal truths, and materialism is false. -/- Chapter 1 introduces (...)
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  23. added 2019-06-17
    Undermining Belief in Consciousness.Justin Clarke-Doane - 2019 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 26 (9-10):34-47.
    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 (...)
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  24. added 2019-06-06
    Causal Essentialism Versus the Zombie Worlds.Brian Jonathan Garrett - 2009 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 39 (1):93-112.
    David Chalmers claims that the logical possibility of ‘zombie worlds’ — worlds physically indiscernible from the actual world, but that lack consciousness — reveal that consciousness is a distinct fact, or property, in addition to the physical facts or properties.The ‘existence’ or possibility of Zombie worlds violates the physicalist demand that consciousness logically supervene upon the physical. On the assumption that the logical supervenience of consciousness upon the physical is, indeed, a necessary entailment of physicalism, the existence of zombie worlds (...)
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  25. 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 (...)
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  26. 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.
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  27. 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 (...)
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  28. added 2019-06-06
    Chalmers’s Conceivability Argument for Dualism.Anthony Brueckner - 2001 - Analysis 61 (3):187-93.
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  29. 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.
  30. added 2019-06-06
    Zombies Versus Materialsts: The Battle for Conceivability.Peter Marton - 1998 - Southwest Philosophy Review 14 (1):131-138.
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  31. 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.
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  32. added 2019-06-06
    Tales From the Crypt: The Night of the Zombie Philosophers.William Maker - 1992 - Metaphilosophy 23 (4):311-328.
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  33. added 2019-06-05
    Destabilizing the Knowledge Argument and Modal Argument; or, How Mary Defeated the Zombies.Amber Ross - 2018 - 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 (...)
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  34. added 2019-06-05
    Qualia, Properties, Modality.Brian Loar - 2003 - Philosophical Issues 13 (1):113-129.
  35. 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. (...)
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  36. added 2019-04-29
    Two Conceivability Arguments Compared.Daniel Stoljar - 2007 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 107 (1pt1):27-44.
    This paper compares and contrasts two conceivability arguments: the zombie argument (ZA) against physicalism, and the perfect actor argument (AA) against behaviourism. I start the paper by assuming that the arguments are of the same kind, and that AA is sound. On the basis of these two assumptions I criticize the most common philosophical suggestions in the literature today about what is wrong with ZA, and what is right in it. I end the paper by suggesting that the comparison between (...)
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  37. 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 (...)
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  38. 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 (...)
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  39. added 2018-12-17
    Semantic Gaps and Protosemantics.Benj Hellie - 2019 - 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 (...)
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  40. 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, (...)
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  41. 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".
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  42. 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 (...)
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  43. 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 (...)
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  44. added 2018-06-10
    Chalmersin argumentti materialismia vastaan.Panu Raatikainen - 2018 - Ajatus 75:401-444.
    Artikkelissa tarkastellaan perusteellisesti ja kriittisesti David Chalmersin vaikutusvaltaista fenomenaaliseen tietoisuuden liittyvää argumenttia materialismia vastaan. Argumentissa tunnistetaan useampikin kuin yksi heikko lenkki.
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  45. 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 (...)
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  46. 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 (...)
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  47. 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, (...)
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  48. 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.
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  49. 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 (...)
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  50. 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.
    The most pressing worry for panpsychism is arguably the combination problem, the problem of intelligibly explaining how the experiences of microphysical entities combine to form the experiences of macrophysical entities such as ourselves. This chapter argues that the combination problem is similar in kind to other problems of mental combination that are problems for everyone: the problem of phenomenal unity, the problem of mental structure, and the problem of new quality spaces. The ubiquity of combination problems suggests the ignorance hypothesis, (...)
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