Philosophical Topics 40 (2):71-89 (2012)

Janet Levin
University of Southern California
Many well-known arguments against physicalism—e.g., Chalmers’s Zombie Argument and Kripke’s Modal Argument—contend that it is conceivable for there to be physical duplicates of ourselves that have no conscious experiences and also that what is conceivable is possible—and therefore, if phenomenal-physical identity statements are supposed to be necessary, then physicalism can’t be true. Physicalists typically respond to these arguments either by questioning whether such creatures can truly be conceived, or denying that the conceivability of such creatures provides good evidencefor their ‘metaphysical’ possibility. An increasing number of physicalists, however, contest these arguments in a different way, namely, by suggesting that the conceivability premises in these arguments beg the question: one’s ability to conceive of the existence of zombies depends exclusively on what one antecedently believes to be the nature of conscious experience —and therefore cannot legitimately be used to draw conclusions about whether conscious experiences could be physical states or processes. My aim in this paper is to consider, and raise questions about, this response to the antiphysicalist arguments—and argue that physicalists have more promising ways to disarm them
Keywords Analytic Philosophy  General Interest  Philosophy of Mind
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s) 0276-2080
DOI 10.5840/philtopics201240214
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 71,512
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Deprioritizing the A Priori Arguments Against Physicalism.Richard Brown - 2010 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 17 (3-4):47-69.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

The Sense of Incredibility in Ethics.Nicholas Laskowski - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (1):93-115.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Deprioritizing the A Priori Arguments Against Physicalism.Richard Brown - 2010 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 17 (3-4):47-69.
Loar's Defence of Physicalism.Stephen Law - 2004 - Ratio 17 (1):60-67.
Physicalism Unfalsified: Chalmers' Inconclusive Argument for Dualism.Andrew Melnyk - 2001 - In Carl Gillett & Barry M. Loewer (eds.), Physicalism and its Discontents. Cambridge University Press. pp. 331-349.
Redundancy of the Zombie Argument in The Conscious Mind.Antti Heikinheimo - 2013 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 20 (5-6):5-6.
Conceiving What is Not There.Andrew Botterell - 2001 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 8 (8):21-42.
We Are Living in a Material World (and I Am a Material Girl).Esa Diaz-Leon - 2008 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 27 (3):85-101.
Indeterminacy and the Mind-Body Problem.Katalin Balog - forthcoming - In Corine Besson, Anandi Hattiangadi & Romina Padro (eds.), Meaning, Modality and Mind: Essays Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Naming and Necessity. Oxford University Press.
Physicalists Have Nothing to Fear From Ghosts.Greg Janzen - 2012 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 20 (1):91-104.
The Inconceivability of Zombies.Robert Kirk - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 139 (1):73-89.


Added to PP index

Total views
175 ( #68,222 of 2,520,967 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #270,438 of 2,520,967 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes