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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. Are Phenomenal Zombies Really Conceivable?Murat Aydede - manuscript
    I argue that if we have a rich enough description of perceptual experiences from an information-theoretic viewpoint, it becomes surprisingly difficult (to put it mildly) to positively conceive philosophical zombies (as complete physical/functional duplicates that lack phenomenal consciousness). Hence, it is at best an open question whether zombies are positively conceivable. My argument requires paying close attention to the direct relation between phenomenology and information.
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  2. Indeterminacy and the Mind-Body Problem.Katalin Balog - manuscript
    This paper is an examination of the mind’s relationship to the physical world, in light of the dialectic between anti-physicalist arguments and physicalist responses. Having developed a master argument against the anti-physicalist, I then notice that there is a puzzling symmetry between dualist attacks on physicalism and physicalist replies. Each position can be developed in a way to defend itself from attacks from the other position. My suggestion is that the reason for the seeming unresolvability of the problem is that (...)
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  3. Chalmers and the Self-Knowledge Problem.Robert Bass - manuscript
    In _The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory_, David Chalmers poses an interesting and powerful challenge to materialism or physicalism. Further, he goes a long way towards providing a proof by example that the rejection of materialism need not commit one to scientifically suspicious “ghost in the machine” doctrines, but can be wedded to a generally naturalistic perspective. As an (as yet) unpersuaded physicalist and functionalist, his case against physicalism seems an appropriate target for criticism. However, it would (...)
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  4. The Logic of Negative Conceivability.Daniel Cohnitz - manuscript
    Analytic epistemology is traditionally interested in rational reconstructions of cognitive pro- cesses. The purpose of these rational reconstructions is to make plain how a certain cognitive process might eventually result in knowledge or justi?ed beliefs, etc., if we pre-theoretically think that we have such knowledge or such justi?ed beliefs. Typically a rational reconstruction assumes some unproblematic basis of knowledge and some justi?cation-preserving inference pattern and then goes on to show how these two su ce to generate the explicandum.
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  5. Transcending Zombies.Pete Mandik - manuscript
    I develop advice to the reductionist about consciousness in the form of a transcendental argument that depends crucially on the sorts of knowledge claims concerning consciousness that, as crucial elements in the anti-reductionists’ epistemicgap arguments, the anti-reductionist will readily concede. The argument that I develop goes as follows. P1. If I know that I am not a zombie, then phenomenal character is (a certain kind of) conceptualized egocentric content. P2. I know that I am not a zombie. P3. Phenomenal character (...)
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  6. The Obvious Argument for the Inconceivability of Zombies.Drew McDermott - manuscript
    Zombies are hypothetical creatures identical to us in behavior and internal functionality, but lacking experience. When the concept of zombie is examined in careful detail, it is found that the attempt to keep experience out does not work. So the concept of zombie is the same as the concept of person. Because they are only trivially conceivable, zombies are in a sense inconceivable.
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  7. Response to Dominic Gregory’s ‘Conceivability and Apparent Possibility’.Ross Cameron - manuscript
    forthcoming in a collection of papers (from OUP, edited by Bob Hale) given at the Arché modality conference, St Andrews University, 7th-9th June 2006.
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  8. New Conceivability Arguments or Revenge of the Zombies.Kati Balog - forthcoming - Philosophical Review.
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  9. The Status of Consciousness in Nature.Berit Brogaard - forthcoming - In Steven Miller (ed.), The Constitution of Consciousness, Volume 2. John Benjamins.
    The most central metaphysical question about phenomenal consciousness is that of what constitutes phenomenal consciousness, whereas the most central epistemic question about consciousness is that of whether science can eventually provide an explanation of phenomenal consciousness. Many philosophers have argued that science doesn't have the means to answer the question of what consciousness is (the explanatory gap) but that consciousness nonetheless is fully determined by the physical facts underlying it (no metaphysical gap). Others have argued that the explanatory gap in (...)
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  10. The Year's Work in Zombie Studies.E. Comentale & A. Jaffe (eds.) - forthcoming - Indiana University Press.
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  11. Zombie Intuitions.Eugen Fischer & Justin Sytsma - forthcoming - Cognition.
    In philosophical thought experiments, as in ordinary discourse, our understanding of verbal case descriptions is enriched by automatic comprehension inferences. Such inferences have us routinely infer what else is also true of the cases described. We consider how such routine inferences from polysemous words can generate zombie intuitions: intuitions that are ‘killed’ (defeated) by contextual information but kept cognitively alive by the psycholinguistic phenomenon of linguistic salience bias. Extending ‘evidentiary’ experimental philosophy, this paper examines whether the ‘zombie argument’ against materialism (...)
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  12. If Consciousness Causes Collapse, the Zombie Argument Fails.Mousa Mohammadian - forthcoming - Synthese.
    Many non-physicalists, including Chalmers, hold that the zombie argument succeeds in rejecting the physicalist view of consciousness. Some non-physicalists, including, again, Chalmers, hold that quantum collapse interactionism, i.e., the idea that non-physical consciousness causes collapse of the wave function in phenomena such as quantum measurement, is a viable interactionist solution for the problem of the relationship between the physical world and the non-physical consciousness. In this paper, I argue that if QCI is true, the zombie argument fails. In particular, I (...)
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  13. Non-Eliminative Reductionism: The Basis of a Science of Conscious Experience?Dennis Nicholson - forthcoming - Philosophical Psychology.
    A physicalist view of qualia labelled non-eliminative reductionism is outlined. If it is true, qualia and physicalism can co-exist without difficulty. First, qualia present no particular problem for reductionist physicalism - they are entirely physical, can be studied and explained using the standard scientific approach, and present no problem any harder than any other scientists face. Second, reductionist physicalism presents no particular problem for qualia – they can be encompassed within an entirely physicalist position without any necessity, either to reduce (...)
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  14. Commentary in Symposium on Chalmers= The Conscious Mind. Forthcoming In.Sydney Shoemaker - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
  15. Moral Zombies: Why Algorithms Are Not Moral Agents.Carissa Véliz - forthcoming - AI and Society:1-11.
    In philosophy of mind, zombies are imaginary creatures that are exact physical duplicates of conscious subjects but for whom there is no first-personal experience. Zombies are meant to show that physicalism—the theory that the universe is made up entirely out of physical components—is false. In this paper, I apply the zombie thought experiment to the realm of morality to assess whether moral agency is something independent from sentience. Algorithms, I argue, are a kind of functional moral zombie, such that thinking (...)
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  16. Russellian Monism and Mental Causation.Torin Alter & Sam Coleman - 2021 - Noûs 55 (2):409-425.
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  17. The Modal Argument Improved.Brian Cutter - 2021 - Analysis 80 (4):629-639.
    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 on an incompatibility thesis: The existence of consciousness is incompatible with the proposition that the physical truths provide a complete description of reality. I show that everyone who accepts the premises of the standard modal argument must accept the premises of the revised modal (...)
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  18. Modal Arguments Against Materialism.Michael Pelczar - 2021 - Noûs 55 (2):426-444.
  19. 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. Can the Russellian Monist Escape the Epiphenomenalist’s Paradox?Lok-Chi Chan - 2020 - Topoi 39 (5):1093-1102.
    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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  21. 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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  22. Dualism: How Epistemic Issues Drive Debates About the Ontology of Consciousness.Brie Gertler - 2020 - 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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  23. Phenomenal Consciousness: A Critical Analysis of Knowledge Argument Inverted Spectrum Argument and Conceivability Argument.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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  24. 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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  25. 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:
  26. 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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  27. Consciousness, Conceivability, and Intrinsic Reduction.Jonathon VandenHombergh - 2020 - Erkenntnis 85 (5):1129-1151.
    Conceivability arguments constitute a serious threat against reductive physicalism. Recently, a number of authors have proven and characterized a devastating logical truth, centered on these arguments: namely, that their soundness entails the inconceivability of reductive physicalism. In this paper, I demonstrate that 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 to the (...)
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  28. 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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  29. Against the Middle Ground: Why Russellian Monism is Unstable.Brian Cutter - 2019 - Analytic Philosophy 60 (2):109-129.
  30. 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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  31. Essentialist Modal Rationalism.Philip Goff - 2019 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 8):2019-2027.
    It used to be thought that rational coherence and metaphysical possibility went hand in hand. Kripke and Putnam put a spanner in the works by proposing examples of propositions which seem to violate this principle. I will propose a nuanced form of modal rationalism consistent with the Kripke/putnam cases. The rough idea is that rational coherence entails possibility when you grasp the essential nature of what you’re conceiving of.
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  32. 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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  33. Mary Does Not Learn Anything New: Applying Kim's Critique of Mental Causation to the Knowledge Argument and the Problem of Consciousness.Adam Khayat - 2019 - Stance 2019 (1):45-55.
    Within the discourse surrounding mind-body interaction, mental causation is intimately associated with non-reductive physicalism. However, such a theory holds two opposing views: that all causal properties and relations can be explicated by physics and that special sciences have an explanatory role. Jaegwon Kim attempts to deconstruct this problematic contradiction by arguing that it is untenable for non-reductive physicalists to explain human behavior by appeal to mental properties. In combination, Kim’s critique of mental causation and the phenomenal concept strategy serves as (...)
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  34. 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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  35. What Does the Zombie Argument Prove?Miklós Márton - 2019 - Acta Analytica 34 (3):271-280.
    In this paper, I argue that the first and the third premises of the zombie argument cannot be jointly true: zombies are either inconceivable beings or the possible existence of them does not threaten the physicalist standpoint. The tenability of the premises in question depends on how we understand the concept of a zombie. In the paper, I examine three popular candidates to this concept, namely zombies are creatures who lack consciousness, but are identical to us in their functional organization, (...)
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  36. 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 (...)
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  37. 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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  38. Necessariamente, Provavelmente não sou um Zumbi (Necessarily, Probably I am not a Zombie).Danilo Fraga Dantas - 2018 - Intuitio 11 (1):19-32.
    O argumento zumbi negativo parte das premissas de que p ∧ ¬q é idealmente negativamente concebível, de que o que é idealmente negativamente concebível é possível e de que o fisicalismo é incompatível com a possibilidade de p ∧ ¬q para concluir que o fisicalismo é falso. No argumento, p é a conjunção das verdades e leis físicas fundamentais e q é uma verdade fenomenal qualquer. Uma sentença φ é idealmente negativamente concebível sse um raciocinador ideal não acredita que ¬φ (...)
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  39. 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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  40. The Zombies Among Us.Eric T. Olson - 2018 - Noûs 52 (1):216-226.
    Philosophers disagree about whether there could be “zombies”: beings physically identical to normal human people but lacking consciousness. Establishing their possibility would refute physicalism. But it is seldom noted that the popular “constitution view” of human people implies that our bodies actually are zombies. This would contradict several widely held views in the philosophy of mind.
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  41. 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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  42. How Mary Defeated the Zombies; Destabilizing the Modal Argument with the Knowledge Argument.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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  43. 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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  44. 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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  45. 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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  46. The Inconceivable Popularity of Conceivability Arguments.Douglas I. Campbell, Jack Copeland & Zhuo-Ran Deng - 2017 - Philosophical Quarterly 67 (267):223-240.
    Famous examples of conceivability arguments include (i) Descartes’ argument for mind-body dualism, (ii) Kripke's ‘modal argument’ against psychophysical identity theory, (iii) Chalmers’ ‘zombie argument’ against materialism, and (iv) modal versions of the ontological argument for theism. In this paper, we show that for any such conceivability argument, C, there is a corresponding ‘mirror argument’, M. M is deductively valid and has a conclusion that contradicts C's conclusion. Hence, a proponent of C—henceforth, a ‘conceivabilist’—can be warranted in holding that C's premises (...)
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  47. 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 (...)
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  48. 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. "Арґумент зомбі" проти матеріалізму: основи та перспективи подальшого дослідження.Andrii Leonov - 2017 - Філософська Думка 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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  50. Access Denied to Zombies.Gualtiero Piccinini - 2017 - Topoi 36 (1):81-93.
    I argue that metaphysicians of mind have not done justice to the notion of accessibility between possible worlds. Once accessibility is given its due, physicalism must be reformulated and conceivability arguments must be reevaluated. To reach these conclusions, I explore a novel way of assessing the zombie conceivability argument. I accept that zombies are possible and ask whether that possibility is accessible from our world in the sense of ‘accessible’ used in possible world semantics. It turns out that the question (...)
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