[opening paragraph}: It turns out that it is possible to distinguish a zombie from a person. A zombie has a different philosophy. That is the only difference. Therefore, zombies can only be detected if they happen to be philosophers. Dennett is obviously a zombie.
In his ‘anti-zombie argument’, Keith Frankish turns the tables on ‘zombists’, forcing them to find an independent argument against the conceivability of anti-zombies. I argue that zombists can shoulder the burden, for there is an important asymmetry between the conceivability of zombies and the conceivability of anti-zombies, which is reflected in the embedding of a totality-clause under the conceivability operator. This makes the anti-zombie argument susceptible to what I call the ‘Modified Incompleteness’, according to which we cannot conceive (...) of scenarios. In this paper I also argue that conceiving of the zombie-situation is a good starting point for rendering the zombie argument plausible. (shrink)
The “hard problem” of consciousness is a challenge for explanations of the nature of our phenomenal experiences. Chalmers has claimed that physicalist solutions to the challenge are ill-suited due, in part, to the zombie argument against physicalism. Perry has suggested that the zombie argument begs the question against the physicalist, and presents no relevant threat to the view. Although seldom discussed in the literature, I show there is defensive merit to Perry’s “parry” of the zombie attack. The (...) success of the maneuver suggests a slight softening of the hard problem of consciousness for physicalists. (shrink)
This paper suggests a critique of the zombie argument that bypasses the need to decide on the truth of its main premises, and specifically, avoids the need to enter the battlefield of whether conceivability entails metaphysical possibility. It is argued that if we accept, as the zombie argument’s supporters would urge us, the assumption that an ideal reasoner can conceive of a complete physical description of the world without conceiving of qualia, the general principle that conceivability entails metaphysical (...) possibility, and the general principle that for any s and t the metaphysical possibility of s & − t entails that s does not necessitate t, we have to conclude not that materialism is false but rather that either materialism or the “mental paint” (or “phenomenist”) conception of phenomenality is false. And further, given the initial advantages of materialism, the fact that proponents of the zombie argument are not allowed to rely on arguments against materialism in confronting this dilemma, and difficulties with arguments in favor of phenomenism, we find ourselves pushed to reject the mental paint conception rather than materialism. Or at any rate, it is hard to see how the proponent of the zombie argument can carry the burden of proof that lies with her. Thus, whether or not those premises of the zombie argument are true, the argument fails to refute materialism. (shrink)
This paper examines the disagreement between those who think zombies are possible and those who think they are not. It aims to shed light on general questions about the nature of modal claims, and about the relation between metaphysical, semantic, and empirical questions. The views of three functional philosophers who provide unequivocal answers to the question “Are zombies possible?” are described.
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.
While nobody will ever know what it may be like to be God, there is a more basic question one may try to answer: does God have phenomenal consciousness, does He have experiences within a conscious point of view (POV)? Drawing on recent debates within philosophy of mind, I argue that He doesn’t: if God exists, ‘He’ is not phenomenally conscious, at least in the sense that there is no ‘divine subjectivity’. The article aims at displaying an incompatibility between God’s (...) being truly omnipresent on the one hand, and God’s having a genuine conscious POV on the other. This is shown by introducing the concept of ‘experiential location’ to clarify what shall be meant by ‘conscious POV’, then by exposing an inconsistency in the traditional concept of omnipresence, and finally by arguing that a consistent though weaker understanding of omnipresence is incompatible with God’s having a conscious POV. This paves the way for a ‘processual’ or computational conception of God, which may have its own metaphysical benefit. (shrink)
In response to Mole 2009, I present an argument for zombie action. The crucial question is not whether but rather to what extent we are zombie agents. I argue that current evidence supports only minimal zombie agency.
I argue that the neural realizers of experiences of trying are not distinct from the neural realizers of actual trying . I then ask how experiences of trying might relate to the perceptual experiences one has while acting. First, I assess recent zombie action arguments regarding conscious visual experience, and I argue that contrary to what some have claimed, conscious visual experience plays a causal role for action control in some circumstances. Second, I propose a multimodal account of the (...) experience of acting. According to this account, the experience of acting is a temporally extended, co-conscious collection of agentive and perceptual experiences, functionally integrated and structured both by multimodal perceptual processing as well as by what an agent is, at the time, trying to do. (shrink)
What is the role of conscious visual experience in the control and guidance of human behaviour? According to some recent treatments, the role is surprisingly indirect. Conscious visual experience, on these accounts, serves the formation of plans and the selection of action types and targets, while the control of 'online' visually guided action proceeds via a quasi-independent non-conscious route. In response to such claims, critics such as (Wallhagen , pp. 539-61) have suggested that the notions of control and guidance invoked (...) are unacceptably vague, and that that the image of 'zombie systems' guiding action fails to take account of the possibility that there is genuine but unconceptualized, unnoticed, and/or unreportable experience taking place and guiding or controlling the actions. I address both sets of concerns. I try to show that refining and clarifying the key notions of control and guidance leaves the original argument intact, as does the appeal to unconceptualized, unnoticed, or unreportable experiences. The exercise serves, however, to highlight an important complex of considerations concerning the relations between control, agency, and experience. Better understanding these relations is, I suggest, an important source of insights concerning the nature of phenomenal experience. (shrink)
In recent years the 'zombie argument' has come to occupy a central role in the case against physicalist views of consciousness, in large part because of the powerful advocacy it has received from David Chalmers.1 In this paper I seek to neutralize it by showing that a parallel argument can be run for physicalism, an argument turning on the conceivability of what I shall call anti-zombies. I shall argue that the result is a stand-off, and that the zombie (...) argument offers no independent reason to reject physicalism. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
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 in the sense of the so-called ‘nomological supervenience’ views. (shrink)
This article deploys and extends Ulrich Beck’s critique of ‘zombie categories’ :261–277, 2001) to consider how conjugal relationships are brought into being before the law. The argument presented here is that sexual performatives relating to marriage—and especially, in this instance, consummation—continue to produce a kind of social-legal magic, even as the social flesh of their enactment is rotting. Rules concerning annulment relating to wedding ceremonies, consent, disclosure, and consummation demonstrate that certain frameworks of conjugality involve a kind of corporeal (...) magic animating the privileged place of heterosexual marriage. Thus, rules and regulations pertaining to weddings continue to produce and protect heterogendered, sexually dimorphous bodies, even though this privileging is—or at least, is becoming—socially obsolete. (shrink)
Deadgirl (2008) is based around a group of male teens discovering and claiming ownership of a bound female zombie, using her as a sex slave. This narrative premise raises numerous tensions that are particularly amplified by using a zombie as the film's central victim. The Deadgirl is sexually passive yet monstrous, reifying the horrors associated with the female body in patriarchal discourses. She is objectified on the basis of her gender, and this has led many reviewers to dismiss (...) the film as misogynistic torture porn. However, the conditions under which masculinity is formed here—where adolescent males become “men” by enacting sexual violence—are as problematic as the specter of the female zombie. Deadgirl is clearly horrific and provocative: in this article I seek to probe implications arising from the film's gender conflicts. (shrink)
This paper is trying to show that it is not possible to use the Knowledge argument as independent evidence for the form of non-reductionism the Modal argument argues for. To show this, Jackson's famous 'Mary' thought experiment is imagined in a zombie world. This leads to the result that there are many problems in the Mary experiment, which cannot have anything to do with phenomenal Qualia, because the Zombie-Mary would encounter them as well, and once all these problems (...) are accounted for, it is no longer clear whether a Zombie-Mary is conceivable at all. Finally, an alternative explanation for the strong non-reductive intuitions of the Mary experiment is discussed. (shrink)
This paper discusses the zombie argument and other antiphysicalist arguments presented by David Chalmers in his book, The Conscious Mind . It is argued that both premises of the zombie argument -- the conceivability of zombies and the conceivabilitypossibility thesis --cannot be made simultaneously plausible without additional argument in support of one of the premises. The best strategy for the proponent of the zombie argument is identified as limiting the conceivability-possibility thesis to an idealized notion of conceivability, (...) and arguing separately for the conceivability of zombies in this idealized sense. Out of Chalmers' main arguments, the argument from epistemic asymmetry and the argument from absence of analysis are considered in this role. It is argued that, while either of the arguments would, if sound, be appropriate for the role, the first is subject to decisive counter-arguments. The second, on the other hand, is found not only suitable to support the zombie argument, but also more convincing in that its premises are less controversial. Since the argument from absence of analysis also establishes the falsity of physicalism directly by itself, if sound, it can be seen to render the zombie argument redundant. (shrink)
Zombie art, or salvage art, are artworks that are damaged beyond repair, deemed by insurance companies, and removed from the market and stored at claims inventories due to their purported loss of value. This paper aims to make sense of the notion of zombie art. It then aims to determine whether artefacts that fall under this concept retain any aesthetic value, and whether they can genuinely cease being artworks, i.e. be dead art.
Since the early 2000s, zombies have become an increasingly significant presence in popular culture. Zombies are social monsters, epitomizing aspects of social horror. What is at once central and yet strangely absent from current debates about zombies is any detailed consideration of sex and sexuality. This oversight is startling, not least since sex is arguably the most intimate form of social engagement, and is a profound aspect of human social identity. What makes the omission even more remarkable is how appositely (...) the zombie reflects socio-sexual desires and fears. Sex and love play crucial roles in numerous zombie narratives. Moreover, the undead have sex with each other and with humans in many contemporary zombie narratives. The unpalatable combination of zombies and sex is provocative, triggering a multitude of questions about the nature of desire, sex, sexuality, and the politics of our sexual behaviors. This chapter outlines the zombie’s historical development towards sex/uality, setting the context for the various approaches to sex/uality – queer and straight, romantic and pornographic – explored in contemporary zombie media. (shrink)
According to a view defended by Hubert Dreyfus and others, elite athletes are totally absorbed while they are performing, and they act non-deliberately without any representational or conceptual thinking. By using both conceptual clarification and phenomenological description the article criticizes this view and maintains that various forms of conscious thinking and acting plays an important role before, during and after competitive events. The article describes in phenomenological detail how elite athletes use consciousness in their actions in sport; as planning, attention, (...) thinking, decision, and monitoring of performance. Elite athletes do not act as zombies. It is concluded that qualia and phenomenal consciousness are important phenomena in elite sport. (shrink)
This article was primarily a reaction to Dennett's Sweet Dreams (2005). In it Dennett pretends to renounce zombies. But what he means is that consciousness is nothing beyond that which can be tested behaviorally and objectively, so since zombies pass these tests, they can't be said to be unconscious – yet that is part of their definition. So they are a contradiction. In other words, zombies are inconceivable because a being that is "behaviorally, objectively indistinguishable from a conscious person" just (...) doesn't deserve in Dennett's eyes to be called unconscious. I argue, to the contrary, that zombies must lack brains since it is perfectly clear that in our universe having a brain (normally) entails having consciousness. I argue also that brain states are about people and things in the world, meaning for example that for some brain state S, necessarily if one is in brain state S, one is thinking about external object A. The brain "comes with" a world. The brain, therefore, transcends the boundaries of the skull. Science (and Dennett) cannot reduce the brain to something that doesn't pull off this most astonishing of feats. (shrink)
David Milner and Melvyn Goodale, and the many psychologists and philosophers who have been influenced by their work, claim that ‘the visual system that gives us our visual experience of the world is not the same system that guides our movements in the world’. The arguments that have been offered for this surprising claim place considerable weight on two sources of evidence — visual form agnosia and the reaching behaviour of normal subjects when picking up objects that induce visual illusions. (...) The present article shows that, if we are careful to consider the possibility that a demonstrative gesture can contribute content to a conscious experience, then neither source of evidence is compelling. (shrink)
The aim of this article is to reclaim social class as a central concern within education, not in the traditional sense as a dimension of educational stratification, but as a powerful and vital aspect of both learner and wider social identities. Drawing on historical and present evidence, a case is made that social inequalities arising from social class have never been adequately addressed within schooling. Recent qualitative research is used to indicate some of the ways in which class is lived (...) in classrooms. The article also raises concerns about the ability of the education system to positively address social class in the classroom when contemporary initial teacher training rarely engages with it as a relevant concern within schooling. (shrink)
The Chinese Room Argument purports to show that‘ syntax is not sufficient for semantics’; an argument which led John Searle to conclude that ‘programs are not minds’ and hence that no computational device can ever exhibit true understanding. Yet, although this controversial argument has received a series of criticisms, it has withstood all attempts at decisive rebuttal so far. One of the classical responses to CRA has been based on equipping a purely computational device with a physical robot body. This (...) response, although partially addressed in one of Searle’s original contra arguments - the ‘robot reply’ - more recently gained friction with the development of embodiment and enactivism1, two novel approaches to cognitive science that have been exciting roboticists and philosophers alike. Furthermore, recent technological advances - blending biological beings with computational systems - have started to be developed which superficially suggest that mind may be instantiated in computing devices after all. This paper will argue that (a) embodiment alone does not provide any leverage for cognitive robotics wrt the CRA, when based on a weak form of embodiment and that (b) unless they take the body into account seriously, hybrid bio-computer devices will also share the fate of their disembodied or robotic predecessors in failing to escape from Searle’s Chinese room. (shrink)
Philosopher's zombies are hypothetical beings behaviorally, functionally, and perhaps even physically indistinguishable from normal humans, but who lack our consciousness. Many people seem to be convinced that such zombies are a real conceptual possibility, and that this bare possibility entails that understanding human consciousness must remain forever beyond the reach of science. However, the conceptual entailments of zombiehood have not been sufficiently examined. This brief article shows that any way of understanding the behavior of zombies that does in fact support (...) the suggested entailment, leads to contradictions and absurdities. Zombies are _not_ conceptually possible. (shrink)
But the book contributes much more. Its discussion of how macroeconomics developed, and the ideology that has grown up around it, is every bit as important and interesting."--Mark Thoma, University of Oregon "This is a terrific book.
Certain recent philosophical theories offer the prospect that zombies are possible. These theories argue that experiential contents, or qualia, are nonphysical properties. The arguments are based on the conceivability of alternate worlds in which physical laws and properties remain the same, but in which qualia either differ or are absent altogether. This article maintains that qualia are, on the contrary, physical properties in the world. It is shown how, under the burden of the a posteriori identification of qualia with physical (...) properties, a reasoned choice can be made between the two types of theories which ultimately favors materialism and rejects zombies. (shrink)
Posthumanist film and television is both a vehicle for reflection on discrimination and prejudice and a means of gratifying in fantasy deeply imbedded human impulses towards prejudice. Discrimination lies at the heart of posthuman narratives whenever the posthuman coalesces around an identifiable group in conflict with humans. We first introduce the idea of prejudice as a form of psychological defense, contrasting it with other accounts of prejudice in the philosophical literature. We then apply this notion to number of posthumanist film (...) and television narratives. An adequate account of prejudice tells us about posthumanism in film—the significance of posthumanist thinking, speculation and fantasy. It helps account for the proliferation of television series and films about people who—being at one time dead, still dead or partially dead, or only sometimes dead, or have powers and appetites we do not have—are borderline creatures: not fully us, but still near to us. (shrink)
Symposium discussion on Todd Moody's `Conversations with Zombies' , by Owen Flanagan, Thomas Polger, Daniel C. Dennett, Guven Guzeldere, Jaron Lanier, John McCarthy, Selmer Bringsjord, Mary Midgley, Avshalom C. Elitzur, Keith Chandler, David Hodgson and Charles T. Tart, with response from Todd C. Moody.