Philosophical Psychology 24 (5):585 - 605 (2011)

Josh Weisberg
University of Houston
Most materialist responses to the zombie argument against materialism take either a ?type-A? or ?type-B? approach: they either deny the conceivability of zombies or accept their conceivability while denying their possibility. However, a ?type-Q? materialist approach, inspired by Quinean suspicions about a priority and modal entailment, rejects the sharp line between empirical and conceptual truths needed for the traditional responses. In this paper, I develop a type-Q response to the zombie argument, one stressing the theory-laden nature of our conceivability and possibility intuitions. I argue that our first-person access to the conscious mind systematically misleads us into thinking that the distinctive qualities of conscious experience?qualia?are nonfunctional. Qualia, I contend, are functional, even though they do not seem to be. To support my claim, I introduce the ?meditations? of Rene Descartes? zombie twin. This establishes the plausibility of an appearance/reality distinction for consciousness and it undermines various anti-materialist objections based on privileged first-person access. I conclude that the best overall theory posits an appearance/reality distinction for qualia, and this, for the type-Q materialist, is decisive
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DOI 10.1080/09515089.2011.562646
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