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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. Reply to Sawyer 2005 Central Division Apa.Torin Alter - unknown
    Sawyer characterizes the zombie intuition as the claim that zombies are metaphysically possible. That’s not what I mean by the phrase. On my usage, ‘the zombie intuition’ refers to a conceivability claim: the claim that there’s no a priori incoherence in the hypothesis of a minimal physical/functional duplicate of the actual world but without consciousness, i.e., that PT&~Q is conceivable. The claim is the first step of a two-step argument, the second step of which is to infer the corresponding metaphysical (...)
  2. Imagining Subjective Absence: Marcus on Zombies.Torin Alter - 2007 - Disputatio 2 (22):91-101.
    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.
  3. Garrett on Causal Essentialism and Zombies.Torin Alter - manuscript
  4. Powers and the Mind–Body Problem.István Aranyosi - 2010 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 18 (1):57 – 72.
    This paper proposes a new line of attack on the conceivability argument for mind-body property dualism, based on the causal account of properties, according to which properties have their conditional powers essentially. It is argued that the epistemic possibility of physical but not phenomenal duplicates of actuality is identical to a metaphysical possibility, but irrelevant for establishing the falsity of physicalism. The proposed attack is in many ways inspired by a standard, broadly Kripkean approach to epistemic and metaphysical modality.
  5. Chalmers' Zombie Argument.István Aranyosi - 2005 - In Type-a Dualism: A Novel Theory of the Mental-Physical Nexus. Dissertation, Central European University.
  6. 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.
  7. Concepts, Introspection, and Phenomenal Consciousness: An Information-Theoretical Approach.Murat Aydede & Guven Guzeldere - 2005 - Noûs 39 (2):197-255.
    This essay is a sustained attempt to bring new light to some of the perennial problems in philosophy of mind surrounding phenomenal consciousness and introspection through developing an account of sensory and phenomenal concepts. Building on the information-theoretic framework of Dretske (1981), we present an informational psychosemantics as it applies to what we call sensory concepts, concepts that apply, roughly, to so-called secondary qualities of objects. We show that these concepts have a special informational character and semantic structure that closely (...)
  8. Consciousness, Conceivability Arguments, and Perspectivalism: The Dialectics of the Debate.Murat Aydede & Guven Guzeldere - 2001 - Communication and Cognition: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly Journal 34 (1-2):99-122.
  9. Physicalism and the Preposterousness of Zombies.Andrew R. Bailey - manuscript
  10. The Unsoundness of Arguments From Conceivability.Andrew R. Bailey - manuscript
    It is widely suspected that arguments from conceivability, at least in some of their more notorious instances, are unsound. However, the reasons for the failure of conceivability arguments are less well agreed upon, and it remains unclear how to distinguish between sound and unsound instances of the form. In this paper I provide an analysis of the form of arguments from conceivability, and use this analysis to diagnose a systematic weakness in the argument form which reveals all its instances to (...)
  11. Zombies Support Biological Theories of Consciousness.Andrew R. Bailey - manuscript
  12. Zombies and Epiphenomenalism.Andrew R. Bailey - 2009 - Dialogue 48 (1):129.
    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 (...)
  13. Zombies, Epiphenomenalism, and Physicalist Theories of Consciousness.Andrew R. Bailey - 2006 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 36 (4):481-509.
  14. On the Conceivability of God's Non-Existence.John Robert Baker - 1983 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 21 (2):313-320.
  15. Critical Notice: Consciousness and the Prospects of Physicalism, by Derk Pereboom.Derek Nelson Ball - 2014 - Analytic Philosophy 55 (1):118-129.
    Critical notice of Derk Pereboom's "Consciousness and the Prospects of Physicalism". Discusses Pereboom's idea that conscious states might be misrepresented in introspection, and his idea that instantiations of mental properties are composed of instantiations of physical properties.
  16. Property Identities and Modal Arguments.Derek Nelson Ball - 2011 - Philosophers' Imprint 11.
    Physicalists about the mind are committed to claims about property identities. Following Kripke's well-known discussion, modal arguments have emerged as major threats to such claims. This paper argues that modal arguments can be resisted by adopting a counterpart theoretic account of modal claims, and in particular modal claims involving properties. Thus physicalists have a powerful motive to adopt non-Kripkean accounts of the metaphysics of modality and the semantics of modal expressions.
  17. Physicalism, Dualism, and Metaphysical Gridlock.Katalin Balog - manuscript
    In this paper I survey the landscape of anti-physicalist arguments and physicalist responses to them. The anti-physicalist arguments I discuss start from a premise about a conceptual, epistemic, or explanatory gap between physical and phenomenal descriptions and conclude from this – on a priori grounds – that physicalism is false. My primary aim is to develop a master argument to counter these arguments. With this master argument in place, it is apparent that there is a puzzling symmetry between dualist attacks (...)
  18. In Defense of the Phenomenal Concept Strategy1.Katalin Balog - 2012 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 84 (1):1-23.
    During the last two decades, several different anti-physicalist arguments based on an epistemic or conceptual gap between the phenomenal and the physical have been proposed. The most promising physicalist line of defense in the face of these arguments – the Phenomenal Concept Strategy – is based on the idea that these epistemic and conceptual gaps can be explained by appeal to the nature of phenomenal concepts rather than the nature of non-physical phenomenal properties. Phenomenal concepts, on this proposal, involve unique (...)
  19. Acquaintance and the Mind-Body Problem.Katalin Balog - 2012 - In Simone Gozzano & Christopher S. Hill (eds.), New Perspectives on Type Identity: The Mental and the Physical. Cambridge University Press. pp. 16.
    In this paper I begin to develop an account of the acquaintance that each of us has with our own conscious states and processes. The account is a speculative proposal about human mental architecture and specifically about the nature of the concepts via which we think in first personish ways about our qualia. In a certain sense my account is neutral between physicalist and dualist accounts of consciousness. As will be clear, a dualist could adopt the account I will offer (...)
  20. Conceivability, Possibility, and the Mind-Body Problem.Katalin Balog - 1999 - Philosophical Review 108 (4):497-528.
    This paper was chosen by The Philosopher’s Annual as one of the ten best articles appearing in print in 2000. Reprinted in Volume XXIII of The Philosopher’s Annual. In his very influential book David Chalmers argues that if physicalism is true then every positive truth is a priori entailed by the full physical description – this is called “the a priori entailment thesis – but ascriptions of phenomenal consciousness are not so entailed and he concludes that Physicalism is false. As (...)
  21. Conceivability, Possibility, and the Mind-Body Problem.Katalin Balog - 1999 - Philosophical Review 108 (4):497-528.
    In his very influential book, The Conscious Mind, David Chalmers argues that if physicalism is true then every positive truth is a priori entailed by the full physical description – this is called “the a priori entailment thesis – but ascriptions of phenomenal consciousness are not so entailed and he concludes that Physicalism is false. As he puts it, “zombies” are metaphysically possible. I show that his argument can be refuted by considering an analogous argument in the mouth of a (...)
  22. Conceivability Arguments.Katalin Balog - 1998 - Dissertation, Rutgers the State University of New Jersey - New Brunswick
    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 that comprise our phenomenal (...)
  23. New Conceivability Arguments or Revenge of the Zombies.Kati Balog - forthcoming - Philosophical Review.
  24. Conceivability, Explanation, and Defeat.Gerald W. Barnes - 2002 - Philosophical Studies 108 (3):327-338.
    Hill and Levine offer alternative explanations of these conceivabilities, concluding that these conceivabilities are thereby defeated as evidence. However, this strategy fails because their explanations generalize to all conceivability judgments concerning phenomenal states. Consequently, one could defend absolutely any theory of phenomenal states against conceivability arguments in just this way. This result conflicts with too many of our common sense beliefs about the evidential value of conceivability with respect to phenomenal states. The general moral is that the application of such (...)
  25. Conceivability, Explanation, and Defeat.Gordon Barnes - 2002 - Philosophical Studies 108 (3):327 - 338.
    Christopher Hill and Joseph Levine have argued that the conceivabilities involved in anti-materialist arguments are defeated as evidence of possibility. Their strategy assumes the following principle: the conceivability of a state of affairs S constitutes evidence for the possibility of S only if the possibility of S is the best explanation of the conceivability of S. So if there is a better explanation of the conceivability of S than its possibility, then the conceivability of S is thereby defeated as evidence (...)
  26. 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 (...)
  27. Modal Epistemology and the Rationalist Renaissance.George Bealer - 2002 - In Tamar S. 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 (...)
  28. The Philosophical Limits of Scientific Essentialism.George Bealer - 1987 - Philosophical Perspectives 1:289-365.
    Scientific essentialism is the view that some necessities can be known only with the aid of empirical science. The thesis of the paper is that scientific essentialism does not extend to the central questions of philosophy and that these questions can be answered a priori. The argument is that the evidence required for the defense of scientific essentialism is reliable only if the intuitions required by philosophy to answer its central questions is also reliable. Included is an outline of a (...)
  29. Zombies Everywhere!Karen Bennett - manuscript
    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 (...)
  30. Précis of "E-physicalism-a physicalist theory of phenomenal consciousness".Reinaldo Bernal Velasquez, Pierre Jacob, Maximilian Kistler, David Papineau & Jérôme Dokic - 2013 - Ideas Y Valores 62 (152):268-297.
    El libro "E-physicalism - A Physicalist Theory of Phenomenal Consciousness" presenta una teoría en el área de la metafísica de la conciencia fenomenal. Está basada en las convicciones de que la experiencia subjetiva -en el sentido de Nagel - es un fenómeno real, y de que alguna variante del fisicalismo debe ser verdadera.
  31. 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 (...)
  32. E-PHYSICALISM - A PHYSICALIST THEORY OF PHENOMENAL CONSCIOUSNESS.Reinaldo Bernal - 2012/2013 - Frankfurt, Germany: Ontos/De Gruyter.
    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 (...)
  33. E-Physicalism. A Physicalist Theory of Phenomenal Consciousness.Reinaldo J. Bernal - 2012 - 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 (...)
  34. A Note on the Definition of Physicalism.Ben Blumson & Weng Hong Tang - 2015 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 4 (1):10-18.
    Physicalism is incompatible with what is known as the possibility of zombies, that is, the possibility of a world physically like ours, but in which there are no conscious experiences. But it is compatible with what is known as the possibility of ghosts, that is, the possibility of a world which is physically like ours, but in which there are additional nonphysical entities. In this paper we argue that a revision to the traditional definition of physicalism designed to accommodate the (...)
  35. Undefeated Dualism.Tomas Bogardus - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 165 (2):445-466.
    In the standard thought experiments, dualism strikes many philosophers as true, including many non-dualists. This ‘striking’ generates prima facie justification: in the absence of defeaters, we ought to believe that things are as they seem to be, i.e. we ought to be dualists. In this paper, I examine several proposed undercutting defeaters for our dualist intuitions. I argue that each proposal fails, since each rests on a false assumption, or requires empirical evidence that it lacks, or overgenerates defeaters. By the (...)
  36. Putting Zombies to Rest: The Role of Dynamics in Reduction.Peter Bokulich - manuscript
  37. All You Zombies. David Chalmers’ Metaphysical Solipsism.Steffen Borge - 1999 - In Uwe Meixner Peter Simons (ed.), Metaphysics in the Post-Metaphysical Age. Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society.
  38. Conceiving What is Not There.Andrew Botterell - 2001 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 8 (8):21-42.
    In this paper I argue that certain so-called conceivability arguments fail to show that a currently popular version of physicalism in the philosophy of mind is false. Concentrating on an argument due to David Chalmers, I first argue that Chalmers misrepresents the relation between conceivability and possibility. I then argue that the intuition behind the conceivability of so-called zombie worlds can be accounted for without having to suppose that such worlds are genuinely conceivable. I conclude with some general remarks about (...)
  39. Analysis in Mind.Andrew Botterell - 1998 - Dissertation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    From the time of Descartes to about the 1960s, a certain epistemological idea dominated the philosophy of mind, namely the idea that theses about the relation between mind and body are, if true, a priori truths. Much of recent philosophy of mind is devoted to the question whether that idea is right. My research is largely an attempt to argue that some recent defenses of it are unsuccessful. ;For example, Physicalism is the metaphysical thesis that every actual psychological event, property, (...)
  40. The Medieval Origins of Conceivability Arguments.Stephen Boulter - 2011 - Metaphilosophy 42 (5):617-641.
    The central recommendation of this article is that philosophers trained in the analytic tradition ought to add the sensibilities and skills of the historian to their methodological toolkit. The value of an historical approach to strictly philosophical matters is illustrated by a case study focussing on the medieval origin of conceivability arguments and contemporary views of modality. It is shown that common metaphilosophical views about the nature of the philosophical enterprise as well as certain inference patterns found in thinkers from (...)
  41. Qualia and Analytical Conditionals.David Braddon-Mitchell - 2003 - Journal of Philosophy 100 (3):111-135.
  42. David Chalmers' Argument for `Property Dualism''.Daniel Bratcher - 1999 - Philosophy Today 43 (3):292-301.
  43. The Zombie Attack on the Computational Conception of Mind.Selmer Bringsjord - 1999 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 59 (1):41 - 69.
    Is it true that if zombies---creatures who are behaviorally indistinguishable from us, but no more conscious than a rock-are logically possible, the computational conception of mind is false? Are zombies logically possible? Are they physically possible? This paper is a careful, sustained argument for affirmative answers to these three questions.
  44. In Defense of Impenetrable Zombies.Selmer Bringsjord - 1995 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 2 (4):348-351.
    Moody is right that the doctrine of conscious inessentialism is false. Unfortunately, his zombie-based argument against , once made sufficiently clear to evaluate, is revealed as nothing but legerdemain. The fact is -- though Moody has convinced himself otherwise -- certain zombies are impenetrable: that they are zombies, and not conscious beings like us, is something beyond the capacity of humans to divine.
  45. 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 (...)
  46. 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 (...)
  47. The Two-Dimensional Argument Against Dualism.Richard Brown - manuscript
    At this point in time the two-dimensional (2D) argument against physicalism is well known (Chalmers 2009; 2010), as are the many responses to it. However there has been a recent development that has yet to be widely discussed. Some philosophers have argued that we have equally compelling reasons to think that dualism is false based on the conceivability of mere physical duplicates which enjoy conscious experience in just the way we do (Martin 1998; Sturgeon 2000; Piccinini 2006; Frankish 2007; Brown (...)
  48. David Chalmers on Mind and Consciousness.Richard Brown - 2014 - In Andrew Bailey (ed.), Philosophy of Mind: The Key Thinkers. Continuum. pp. 283-292.
  49. Zombies and Simulation.Richard Brown - 2012 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 19 (7-8):21-25.
    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 (...)
  50. Deprioritizing the A Priori Arguments Against Physicalism.Richard Brown - 2010 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 17 (3-4):47-69.
    In this paper I argue that a priori arguments fail to present any real problem for physicalism. They beg the question against physicalism in the sense that the argument will only seem compelling if one is already assuming that qualitative properties are nonphysical. To show this I will present the reverse-zombie and reverse-knowledge arguments. The only evidence against physicalism is a priori arguments, but there are also a priori arguments against dualism of exactly the same variety. Each of these parity (...)
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