Journal of Consciousness Studies 24 (11-12):167-192 (2017)

Galen Strawson
University of Texas at Austin
According to the ‘conceivability argument’ [1] it’s conceivable that a conscious human being H may have a perfect physical duplicate H* who isn’t conscious, [2] whatever is conceivable is possible, therefore [3] H* may possibly exist. This paper argues that the conceivability argument can’t help in discussion of the ‘mind–body problem’ even if [2] is allowed to be true. This is not because [1] is false, but because we don’t and can’t know enough about the nature of the physical to know whether or not [1] is true. This follows from ‘the silence of physics’—the fact that physics neither does nor can tell us about the intrinsic non-structural nature of the physical, and the consequences of this fact for any adequate account of the meaning of the word ‘physical’.
Keywords 'physical' physics, conceivability, the silence of physics, zombie
Categories (categorize this paper)
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: 63,417
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

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Grounding Grounds Necessity.Julio De Rizzo - 2021 - Analysis 80 (4):639-647.
A Hundred Years of Consciousness: “A Long Training in Absurdity”.Galen Strawson - 2019 - Estudios de Filosofía (Universidad de Antioquia) 59.
The Modal Argument Improved.Brian Cutter - 2021 - Analysis 80 (4):629-639.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Introduction: Conceivability and Possibility.Tamar Szabó Gendler & John Hawthorne - 2002 - In T. Szabó Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Conceivability and Possibility. Oxford University Press. pp. 1--70.
Conceiving What is Not There.Andrew Botterell - 2001 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 8 (8):21-42.
Mortality and Medicine: Forms of Silence and of Speech.M. Rowe - 2003 - Medical Humanities 29 (2):72-76.
The Conceivability of Naturalism.Crispin Wright - 2002 - In Tamar S. Gendler (ed.), Conceivability and Possibility. Oxford University Press. pp. 401--439.


Added to PP index

Total views
25 ( #436,769 of 2,449,114 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
7 ( #96,772 of 2,449,114 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes