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1.3b. Zombies and the Conceivability Argument (Zombies and the Conceivability Argument on PhilPapers)

See also:
Alter, Torin (online). Garrett on causal essentialism and zombies.   (Google)
Alter, Torin (2007). Imagining subjective absence: Marcus on zombies. Disputatio 2:91-101.   (Google)
Abstract: 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
Alter, Torin, Reply to Sawyer 2005 central division apa.   (Google)
Abstract: 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 possibility. The inference is controversial, but that’s not my concern here. By ‘the zombie intuition’, I mean the first step, which is a claim of conceivability, not metaphysical possibility
Aranyosi, István (forthcoming). A new argument for mind-brain identity. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.   (Google)
Abstract: In this paper I undertake the tasks of reconsidering Feigl’s notion of a ‘nomological dangler’ in light of recent discussion about the viability of accommodating phenomenal properties, or qualia, within a physicalist picture of reality, and of constructing an argument to the effect that nomological danglers, including the way qualia are understood to be related to brain states by contemporary dualists, are extremely unlikely. I offer a probabilistic argument to the effect that merely nomological danglers are extremely unlikely, the only probabilistically coherent candidates being ‘anomic danglers’ (not even nomically correlated) and ‘necessary danglers’ (more than merely nomically correlated). After I show, based on similar probabilistic reasoning, that the first disjunct (anomic danglers) is very unlikely, I conclude that the identity thesis is the only remaining candidate for the mental/physical connection. The novelty of the argument is that it brings probabilistic considerations in favour of physicalism, a move that has been neglected in the recent burgeoning literature on the subject.
Aranyosi, Istvan A. (2005). Chalmers' zombie argument. In Type-A Dualism: A Novel Theory of the Mental-Physical Nexus. Dissertation, Central European University.   (Google)
Aranyosi, István (2010). Powers and the mind–body problem. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 18 (1):57 – 72.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: 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 (understood as broadly logical) 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
Aydede, Murat, Are phenomenal zombies really conceivable?   (Google)
Abstract: Zombies, as conceived by philosophers these days, are supposed to be creatures that are physically indistinguishable from normal people that nevertheless completely lack phenomenal consciousness. The kind of zombie I want to focus on is one that is molecule- by-molecule identical to a healthy, normal, adult human being living in a world physically like ours — indeed this might be our own actual world. To make things more concrete, pick any such person that you actually know. Let this be John. John is not a zombie. Now consider an exact, perfect, physical replica of John, call him Zhon. Note that because John and Zhon are physically alike, they are also behaviorally and functionally alike. So if you were to encounter Zhon, you could not distinguish him from John. Under the imagined circumstances so far, you would normally expect Zhon to be conscious as well. But let’s stipulate that Zhon has no conscious experiences whatsoever — he’s never had them, nor will he ever have them. So Zhon, according to this stipulation, doesn’t know — indeed cannot know — what it is like to have conscious experiences of any kind. There is nothing it is like to be Zhon. Zhon lacks conscious phenomenology altogether. If Zhon were to be a metaphysically possible creature, he would be a zombie.1 So this is the notion of zombie I would like to focus on. According to many philosophers, Zhon is a possible creature, and that is because Zhon is a conceivable creature. This gives us the argument from zombies against physicalism. Physicalism is the doctrine that says: all that exist is physical through and through, including conscious minds and their conscious experiences. The zombie argument, as we might call it, is a species of conceivability arguments: 1. If Zhon is conceivable, then Zhon is possible. 2. Zhon is conceivable. 3. Hence, Zhon is possible. Now since the choice of Zhon was arbitrary, we can, of course, generalize the argument to all zombies like Zhon — that is, to zombies that are physically indistinguishable, in relevant respects, to healthy, normal, adult human beings..
Aydede, Murat & Guzeldere, Guven (2004). Cognitive architecture, concepts, and introspection: An information-theoretic solution to the problem of phenomenal consciousness. [Journal (on-Line/Unpaginated)] (in Press) 39 (2):197--255.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: 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 tie them to the brain states realizing conscious qualitative experiences. We then develop an account of introspection which exploits this special nature of sensory concepts. The result is a new class of concepts, which, following recent terminology, we call phenomenal concepts: these concepts refer to phenomenal experience itself and are the vehicles used in introspection. On our account, the connection between sensory and phenomenal concepts is very tight: it consists in different semantic uses of the same cognitive structures underlying the sensory concepts, such as the concept of red. Contrary to widespread opinion, we show that information theory contains all the resources to satisfy internalist intuitions about phenomenal consciousness, while not offending externalist ones. A consequence of this account is that it explains and predicts the so-called conceivability arguments against physicalism on the basis of the special nature of sensory and phenomenal concepts. Thus we not only show why physicalism is not threatened by such arguments, but also demonstrate its strength in virtue of its ability to predict and explain away such arguments in a principled way. However, we take the main contribution of this work to be what it provides in addition to a response to those conceivability arguments, namely, a substantive account of the interface between sensory and conceptual systems and the mechanisms of introspection as based on the special nature of the information flow between them
Aydede, Murat & Guzeldere, Guven (2001). Consciousness, conceivability arguments, and perspectivalism: The dialectics of the debate. Communication and Cognition 34 (1-2):99-122.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Aydede, Murat (online). On the conceivability of phenomenal zombies with "sensory-perceptual" systems that are informationally identical to ours.   (Google)
Abstract: The spokesperson in the Pentagon press room announces the availability of a breakthrough new technology. She says it is the first brain-implantable product of a larger project for developing cybernetic organisms (cyborgs) with new and enhanced sensory capabilities that will also have civilian uses. On the screen we see a device fitted on the forehead of a cyborg that appears to have hardwired connections to the brain on several points on the skull. The spokesperson calls the device
Bailey, Andrew R. (ms). Physicalism and the preposterousness of zombies.   (Google)
Bailey, Andrew R. (ms). The unsoundness of arguments from conceivability.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: 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 be, roughly, either uninformative or unsound. I illustrate this conclusion through a consideration of David Chalmers
Bailey, Andrew R., Zombies and epiphenomenalism.   (Google)
Abstract: 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 rarement formulés et l’autre nouveaux—sont plus persuasif. Le résultat, cependant, est que le zombist pourraient en effet être confronté à un engagement indésirables à l’epiphenomenalism de conscience
Bailey, Andrew R. (2006). Zombies, epiphenomenalism, and physicalist theories of consciousness. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 36 (4).   (Google)
Bailey, Andrew R. (ms). Zombies support biological theories of consciousness.   (Google)
Balog, Katalin (forthcoming). Acquaintance and the mind-body problem. In Christopher Hill & Simone Gozzano (eds.), Identity Theory. Cambridge University Press.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Abstract: 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 while maintaining that qualia themselves are non-physical properties. In this case the non-physical nature of qualia may play no role in accounting for the features of acquaintance. But although the account could be used by a dualist, its existence provides enormous support for physicalism. In particular it provides the makings of a positive refutation (i.e., a refutation by construction) of the conceivability arguments and the Mary argument for dualism.
Balog, Katalin (1999). Conceivability, possibility, and the mind-body problem. Philosophical Review 108 (4):497-528.   (Cited by 31 | Google)
Abstract: 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 he puts it, “zombies” are metaphysically possible. I attempt to show (I think successfully) that this argument is refuted by considering an analogous argument in the mouth of a zombie. The conclusion of this argument is false so one of the premises is false. I argue at length that this shows that the original conceivability argument also has a false premise and so is invalid.
Balog, Katalin (forthcoming). In Defense of the Phenomenal Concept Strategy. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.   (Google)
Abstract: 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 cognitive mechanisms, but none that could not be fully physically implemented. David Chalmers has recently presented a Master Argument to show that the Phenomenal Concept Strategy – not just this or that version of it, but any version of it – fails. Chalmers argues that the phenomenal concepts posited by such theories are either not physicalistically explicable, or they cannot explain our epistemic situation with regard to qualia. I argue that it is his Master Argument that fails. My claim is his argument does not provide any new reasons to reject the Phenomenal Concept Strategy. I also argue that, although the Phenomenal Concept Strategy is successful in showing that the physicalist is not rationally compelled to give up physicalism in the light of the anti-physicalist arguments, the anti-physicalist is not rationally compelled to give up the anti-physicalist argument in the light of the Phenomenal Concept Strategy either.
Balog, Katalin, Illuminati, zombies and metaphysical gridlock.   (Google)
Abstract: 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 on physicalism and physicalist replies. Each position can be developed in a way to defend itself from attacks from the other position. Therefore the debate comes down to which metaphysical framework provides the better overall explanatory/theoretical framework.
Barnes, Gerald W. (2002). Conceivability, explanation, and defeat. Philosophical Studies 108 (3):327-338.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract: 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 principles of explanatory defeat is neither simple nor straightforward
Bealer, George (2002). Modal epistemology and the rationalist renaissance. In Tamar S. Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Conceivability and Possibility. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 21 | Google)
Abstract: 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
Bealer, George (1987). The philosophical limits of scientific essentialism. Philosophical Perspectives 1:289-365.   (Cited by 44 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Scientific essentialism is the view that some necessities (e.g., water = H2O) 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 (e.g., twin earth intuitions) is reliable only if the intuitions required by philosophy to answer its central questions is also reliable. Included is an outline of a modal reliabilist theory of basic evidence and a concept-possession account of the reliability of a priori intuition
Bennett, Karen (online). Zombies everywhere!   (Google)
Bokulich, Peter (ms). Putting zombies to rest: The role of dynamics in reduction.   (Google)
Abstract: I argue that property dualism is not supported by the purported logical possibility of qualitative zombies. Chalmers
Botterell, Andrew (2001). Conceiving what is not there. Journal of Consciousness Studies 8 (8):21-42.   (Cited by 6 | Google)
Braddon-Mitchell, David (2003). Qualia and analytical conditionals. Journal of Philosophy 100 (3):111-135.   (Cited by 12 | Google | More links)
Bringsjord, Selmer (1995). In defense of impenetrable zombies. Journal of Consciousness Studies 2 (4):348-351.   (Cited by 7 | Google | More links)
Bringsjord, Selmer (1999). The zombie attack on the computational conception of mind. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 59 (1):41-69.   (Cited by 14 | Google | More links)
Brown, Richard (2010). Deprioritizing the A Priori Arguments against Physicalism. Journal of Consciousness Studies 17 (4-5).   (Google | More links)
Abstract: 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 arguments has premises that are just as intuitively plausible, and it cannot be the case that both the traditional scenarios and the reverse-scenarios are all ideally conceivable. Given this one set must be merely prima facie conceivable and only empirical methods will tell us which is which. So, by the time a priori methodology will be of any use it will be too late.
Brown, Richard (2007). Review of Zombies and consciousness by Robert Kirk. Philosophical Psychology 20 (3):12-15.   (Google)
Abstract: This book covers a vast amount of material in the philosophy of mind, which makes it difficult to do justice to its tightly argued and nuanced details. It does, however, have two overarching goals that are visible, so to speak, from space. In the first half of the book Kirk aims to show that, contra his former self, philosophical zombies are not conceivable. By this he means that the zombie scenario as usually constructed contains an unnoticed contradiction, and explaining the contradiction reveals a radical misconception about the nature of phenomenal consciousness. His second aim of the book is to construct a theory of perceptual-phenomenal consciousness that avoids this contradiction. The anti-zombie argument can be stated rather easily. According to the ‘zombist’ there can be a creature that is a molecule-for-molecule-duplicate of me and yet lacks phenomenal consciousness. At the same time they want to hold that we have ‘epistemic access’ to our phenomenal consciousness. These two claims are not consistent with each other. To see why, imagine a zombie world that is identical to ours except in respect of phenomenal consciousness. Since that world is just like ours we can assume that it is causally closed under the physical. Now, continues Kirk, it should be possible to add to that world whatever it is that the zombist thinks will transform it into a world that does have phenomenal consciousness. But since whatever we added would have to be nonphysical, since their world is identical to ours (excepting consciousness), and so could not interact causally with the physical world (which is closed under the physical), it follows that we could not know anything about these ‘e-qualia’. Therefore, we could not have ‘epistemic access’ to them. To make this vivid he offers what he calls the ‘sole-pictures’ argument. Again, consider our zombie world. Let’s add whatever it is that the zombist thinks will transform it into a world like ours. Now let’s imagine that by a “strange shift in the natural laws” of the zombie world the visual processes that in me cause e-qualia instead cause....
Brueckner, Anthony L. (2001). Chalmers' conceivability argument for dualism. Analysis 61 (3):187-193.   (Cited by 8 | Google | More links)
Abstract: In The Conscious Mind, D. Chalmers appeals to his semantic framework in order to show that conceivability, as employed in his "zombie" argument for dualism, is sufficient for genuine possibility. I criticize this attempt
Chalmers, David J. (1996). Can consciousness be reductively explained? In The Conscious Mind. Oxford University Press.   (Annotation | Google)
Chalmers, David J. (2002). Does conceivability entail possibility? In Tamar S. Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Conceivability and Possibility. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 70 | Google | More links)
Abstract: There is a long tradition in philosophy of using a priori methods to draw conclusions about what is possible and what is necessary, and often in turn to draw conclusions about matters of substantive metaphysics. Arguments like this typically have three steps: first an epistemic claim (about what can be known or conceived), from there to a modal claim (about what is possible or necessary), and from there to a metaphysical claim (about the nature of things in the world)
Chalmers, David J. (2004). Imagination, indexicality, and intensions. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 68 (1):182-90.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Abstract: John Perry's book Knowledge, Possibility, and Consciousness is a lucid and engaging defense of a physicalist view of consciousness against various anti-physicalist arguments. In what follows, I will address Perry's responses to the three main anti-physicalist arguments he discusses: the zombie argument (focusing on imagination), the knowledge argument (focusing on indexicals), and the modal argument (focusing on intensions)
Chalmers, David J. (manuscript). Mind and modality. .   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract: What follows are compressed versions of three lectures on the subject of "Mind and Modality", given at Princeton University the week of October 12-16, 1998. The first two form a series; the third stands alone to some extent. All are philosophically technical, and probably of interest mainly to philosophers. I hope that they make sense, at least to those familiar with my book _The Conscious Mind_ . Lecture 1 recapitulates some of the material in the book in a somewhat different form, and adds some further material on conditionals and on Kripke. Note that section has a more or less definitive formalization of the anti-materialist argument from the book (lots of people have asked for this). Lecture 2 pushes deeper into the heart of modality, further investigating the conceivability/possibility relationship and the epistemology of modality (with some material on the scrutability of truth in general), and arguing for a sort of modal rationalism. Lecture 3 gives an analysis of the content of beliefs about experiences, and applies this to a number of epistemological issues, including incorrigibility and the dialectic on "The Myth of the Given"
Chalmers, David J. (1999). Materialism and the metaphysics of modality. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 59 (2):473-96.   (Cited by 55 | Google | More links)
Abstract: This appeared in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 59:473-93, as a response to four papers in a symposium on my book The Conscious Mind . Most of it should be comprehensible without having read the papers in question. This paper is for an audience of philosophers and so is relatively technical. It will probably also help to have read some of the book. (There is a corresponding precis of the book, written for the symposium.) The papers I'm responding to are: Chris Hill & Brian McLaughlin, There are fewer things in reality than are dreamt of in Chalmers' philosophy Brian Loar, David Chalmers' The Conscious Mind Sydney Shoemaker, On David Chalmers' The Conscious Mind Stephen Yablo, Concepts and consciousness Contents
Chalmers, David J. (1996). Naturalistic dualism. In The Conscious Mind. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 2 | Annotation | Google)
Chalmers, David J. (1993). Self-ascription without qualia: A case-study. Behavioral And Brain Sciences 16 (1):35-36.   (Cited by 6 | Google | More links)
Abstract: In Section 5 of his interesting article, Goldman suggests that the consideration of imaginary cases can be valuable in the analysis of our psychological concepts. In particular, he argues that we can imagine a system that is isomorphic to us under any functional description, but which lacks qualitative mental states, such as pains and color sensations. Whether or not such a being is empirically possible, it certainly seems to be logically possible, or conceptually coherent. Goldman argues from this possibility to the conclusion that our concepts of qualitative mental states cannot be analyzed entirely in functional terms
Chalmers, David J. (forthcoming). The two-dimensional argument against materialism. In Brian P. McLaughlin & Sven Walter (eds.), Oxford Handbook to the Philosophy of Mind. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 11 | Google | More links)
Abstract: A number of popular arguments for dualism start from a premise about an epistemic gap between physical truths about truths about consciousness, and infer an ontological gap between physical processes and consciousness. Arguments of this sort include the conceivability argument, the knowledge argument, the explanatory-gap argument, and the property dualism argument. Such arguments are often resisted on the grounds that epistemic premises do not entail ontological conclusion. My view is that one can legitimately infer ontological conclusions from epistemic premises, if one is very careful about how one reasons. To do so, the best way is to reason first from epistemic premises to modal conclusions (about necessity and possibility), and from there to ontological conclusions. Here, the crucial issue is the link between the epistemic and modal domains. How can one reason from theses about what is knowable or conceivable to theses about what is necessary or possible? To bridge the epistemic and modal domains, the framework of two-dimensional semantics can play a central role. I have used this framework in earlier work (Chalmers 1996) to mount an argument against materialism. Here, I want to revisit the argument, laying it out in a more explicit and careful form, and responding to a number of objections. In what follows I will concentrate mostly on the conceivability argument. I think that very similar considerations apply to the other arguments mentioned above, however. In the final section of the paper, I show how this analysis might yield a unified treatment of a number of anti-materialist arguments
Chalmers, David (unknown). Zombies on the web. .   (Google)
Abstract: Zombies are hypothetical creatures of the sort that philosophers have been known to cherish. A zombie is physically identical to a normal human being, but completely lacks conscious experience. Zombies look and behave like the conscious beings that we know and love, but "all is dark inside." There is nothing it is like to be a zombie
Churchland, Paul M. (2004). Philosophy of mind meets logical theory: Perry on neo-dualism. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 68 (1):199-206.   (Google | More links)
Cohnitz, Daniel (online). The logic of negative conceivability.   (Google)
Abstract: Analytic epistemology is traditionally interested in rational reconstructions of cognitive pro- cesses. The purpose of these rational reconstructions is to make plain how a certain cognitive process might eventually result in knowledge or justi?ed beliefs, etc., if we pre-theoretically think that we have such knowledge or such justi?ed beliefs. Typically a rational reconstruction assumes some (more or less) unproblematic basis of knowledge and some justi?cation-preserving inference pattern and then goes on to show how these two su ce to generate the explicandum
Cottrell, Allin (1999). Sniffing the camembert: On the conceivability of zombies. Journal of Consciousness Studies 6:4-12.   (Cited by 13 | Google)
Dennett, Daniel C. (1995). The unimagined preposterousness of zombies. Journal of Consciousness Studies 2 (4):322-26.   (Cited by 37 | Google)
Abstract: Knock-down refutations are rare in philosophy, and unambiguous self-refutations are even rarer, for obvious reasons, but sometimes we get lucky. Sometimes philosophers clutch an insupportable hypothesis to their bosoms and run headlong over the cliff edge. Then, like cartoon characters, they hang there in mid-air, until they notice what they have done and gravity takes over. Just such a boon is the philosophers' concept of a zombie, a strangely attractive notion that sums up, in one leaden lump, almost everything that I think is wrong with current thinking about consciousness. Philosophers ought to have dropped the zombie like a hot potato, but since they persist in their embrace, this gives me a golden opportunity to focus attention on the most seductive error in current thinking
Dennett, Daniel C. (2001). The zombic hunch: Extinction of an intuition? In Anthony O'Hear (ed.), Philosophy at the New Millennium. Cambridge University Press.   (Cited by 14 | Google | More links)
de Quincey, Christian (2000). Conceiving the 'inconceivable'? Journal of Consciousness Studies 7 (4):67-81.   (Cited by 4 | Google)
Diaz-Leon, Esa (2008). Defending the phenomenal concept strategy. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 86 (4):597 – 610.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: One of the main strategies against conceivability arguments is the so-called phenomenal concept strategy, which aims to explain the epistemic gap between physical and phenomenal truths in terms of the special features of phenomenal concepts. Daniel Stoljar has recently argued that the phenomenal concept strategy has failed to provide a successful explanation of this epistemic gap. In this paper my aim is to defend the phenomenal concept strategy from his criticisms. I argue that Stoljar has misrepresented the resources of the strategy, which can indeed accomplish the required explanatory task, once it is properly understood
Diaz-Leon, Esa, The conceivability argument against behaviourism and the phenomenal concept strategy.   (Google)
Abstract: The phenomenal concept strategy is one of the most attractive responses to the so-called conceivability arguments. A crucial step in these arguments is the inference from conceivability to possibility. The phenomenal concept strategy attacks this inference from conceivability to possibility: they argue that there is an alternative explanation of the conceivability of zombies, which does not involve the possibility of zombies. This alternative explanation appeals to special features of phenomenal concepts in order to explain the conceivability of zombies. Daniel Stoljar has recently argued that if the phenomenal concept strategy was a good strategy against the conceivability argument against physicalism, it would also be a good strategy against the conceivability argument against behaviourism. But he claims that the latter conceivability argument is sound, and therefore the phenomenal concept strategy cannot be correct. In this paper I show how the phenomenal concept strategy can respond to this objection
Dietrich, Eric & Gillies, Anthony S. (2001). Consciousness and the limits of our imaginations. Synthese 126 (3):361-381.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Dietrich, Eric (1998). It only seems as if zombies are logically possible, or how consciousness hides the truth of materialism: A critical review of The Conscious Mind. Minds and Machines 8 (3).   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Fiocco, M. Oreste (2007). Conceivability and epistemic possibility. Erkenntnis 67 (3).   (Google | More links)
Abstract: The notion of conceivability has traditionally been regarded as crucial to an account of modal knowledge. Despite its importance to modal epistemology, there is no received explication of conceivability. In recent discussions, some have attempted to explicate the notion in terms of epistemic possibility. There are, however, two notions of epistemic possibility, a more familiar one and a novel one. I argue that these two notions are independent of one another. Both are irrelevant to an account of modal knowledge on the predominant view of modal reality. Only the novel notion is relevant and apt on the competing view of modal reality; but this latter view is problematic in light of compelling counterexamples. Insufficient care regarding the independent notions of epistemic possibility can lead to two problems: a gross problem of conflation and a more subtle problem of obscuring a crucial fact of modal epistemology. Either problem needlessly hampers efforts to develop an adequate account of modal knowledge. I conclude that the familiar notion of epistemic possibility (and the very term ‘epistemic possibility’) should be eschewed in the context of modal epistemology
Fish, William C. (1999). Problems with actual-sequence incompatibilism. Philosophical Writings 12:47-52.   (Google)
Frankish, Keith (2007). The anti-zombie argument. Philosophical Quarterly 57 (229):650–666.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: 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
Garrett, Brian Jonathan (2009). Causal essentialism versus the zombie worlds. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 39 (1):pp. 93-112.   (Google)
Geirsson, Heimir (2005). Conceivability and defeasible modal justification. Philosophical Studies 122 (3):279-304.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract: This paper advances the thesis that we can justifiably believe philosophically interesting possibility statements. The first part of the paper critically discusses van Inwagens skeptical arguments while at the same time laying some of the foundation for a positive view. The second part of the paper advances a view of conceivability in terms of imaginability, where imaginging can be propositional, pictorial, or a combination of the two, and argues that conceivability can, and often does, provide us with justified beliefs of what is metaphysically possible. The notion of scenarios is developed, as is an account of how filling out scenarios can uncover a defeater or, in many cases, strengthen the justification for the relevant possibility statement
Gendler, Tamar S. & Hawthorne, John (eds.) (2002). Conceivability and Possibility. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 40 | Google)
Abstract: The capacity to represent things to ourselves as possible plays a crucial role both in everyday thinking and in philosophical reasoning; this volume offers much-needed philosophical illumination of conceivability, possibility, and the relations between them
Gendler, Tamar S. & Hawthorne, John (2002). Introduction: Conceivability and possibility. In T. Genler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Conceivability and Possibility. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 5 | Google)
Abstract: To what extent and how is conceivability a guide to possibility? This essay explores general philosophical issues raised by this question, and critically surveys responses to it by Descartes, Hume, Kripke and "two-dimensionalists."
Gertler, Brie (2002). Explanatory reduction, conceptual analysis, and conceivability arguments about the mind. Noûs 36 (1):22-49.   (Cited by 5 | Google | More links)
Abstract: The current stand-off between reductionists and anti-reductionists about the mental has sparked a long-overdue reexamination of key issues in philosophi- cal methodology.1 The resulting debate promises to advance our understand- ing of how empirical discoveries bear on the numerous philosophical problems which involve the analysis or reduction of kinds. The parties to this debate disagree about how, and to what extent, conceptual facts contribute to justify- ing explanatory reductions
Goff, Philip (2010). Ghosts and sparse properties: Why physicalists have more to fear from ghosts than zombies. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 81 (1):119-139.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Zombies are bodies without minds: creatures that are physically identical to actual human beings, but which have no conscious experience. Much of the consciousness literature focuses on considering how threatening philosophical reflection on such creatures is to physicalism. There is not much attention given to the converse possibility, the possibility of minds without bodies, that is, creatures who are conscious but whose nature is exhausted by their being conscious. We can call such a ‘purely conscious’ creature a ghost
Goff, Philip (2007). Kirk on empirical physicalism - discussion. Ratio 20 (1):122-129.   (Google | More links)
Guzeldere, Guven (1995). Varieties of zombiehood. Journal of Consciousness Studies 2 (4):326-33.   (Cited by 10 | Google)
Hanrahan, Rebecca Roman (2009). Consciousness and modal empiricism. Philosophia 37 (2).   (Google)
Abstract: David Chalmers supports his contention that there is a possible world populated by our zombie twins by arguing for the assumption that conceivability entails possibility. But, I argue, the modal epistemology he sets forth, ‘modal rationalism,’ ignores the problem of incompleteness and relies on an idealized notion of conceivability. As a consequence, this epistemology can’t justify our quotidian judgments of possibility, let alone those judgments that concern the mind/body connection. Working from the analogy that the imagination is to the possible as perception is to the actual, I set forth a competing epistemology, ‘modal empiricism.’ This epistemology survives the incompleteness objection and allows some of our everyday modal judgments to be justified. But this epistemology can’t justify the claim that Zombie World is possible, which leaves Chalmers’s property dualism without the support it needs
Handrahan, Rebecca (2005). Epistemology and possibility. Dialogue 44 (4):627-652.   (Google)
Harnad, Stevan (1994). Guest editorial: Why and how we are not zombies. Journal of Consciousness Studies 1 (2):164-167.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Harnad, Stevan (1994). Why and how we are not zombies. Journal of Consciousness Studies 1:164-67.   (Cited by 65 | Google | More links)
Abstract: A robot that is functionally indistinguishable from us may or may not be a mindless Zombie. There will never be any way to know, yet its functional principles will be as close as we can ever get to explaining the mind
Harnad, Stevan (1995). Why and how we are not zombies. [Journal (Paginated)].   (Google | More links)
Abstract: A robot that is functionally indistinguishable from us may or may not be a mindless Zombie. There will never be any way to know, yet its functional principles will be as close as we can ever get to explaining the mind
Hauser, Larry (online). Revenge of the zombies.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Abstract: Zombies recently conjured by Searle and others threaten civilized (i.e., materialistic) philosophy of mind and scientific psychology as we know it. Humanoid beings that behave like us and may share our functional organizations and even, perhaps, our neurophysiological makeups without qualetative conscious experiences, zombies seem to meet every materialist condition for thought on offer and yet -- the wonted intuitions go -- are still disqualefied (disqualified for lack of qualia) from being thinking things. I have a plan. Other zombies -- good (qualia eating) zombies -- can battle their evil (behavior eating) cousins to a standoff. Perhaps even defeat them. Familiar zombies and supersmart zombies resist disqualefication, making the world safe, again, for materialism. Behavioristic materialism. Alas for functionalism, good zombies still eat programs. Alas for identity theory, all zombies -- every B movie fan knows -- eat brains
Havel, Ivan (1999). Living in conceivable worlds. Foundations of Science 3 (2):375-394.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Certain cognitive and philosophical aspects of the concept of conceivability with intended or established diversion from (putative) reality are discussed. The “coherence gap problem” arises when certain fragments of the real world are replaced with imaginary situations while most details are (intentionally or not) ignored. Another issue, “the spectator problem”, concerns the participation of the conceiver himself in the world conceived. Three different examples of conceivability are used to illustrate our points, namely thought experiments in physics, a hypothetical world devoid of consciousness (zombie world), and virtual reality
Hawthorne, John (2002). Advice for physicalists. Philosophical Studies 109 (1):17-52.   (Cited by 10 | Google | More links)
Hill, Christopher S. (1998). Chalmers on the apriority of modal knowledge. Analysis 58 (1):20-26.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Hill, Christopher S. (1997). Imaginability, conceivability, possibility, and the mind-body problem. Philosophical Studies 87 (1):61-85.   (Cited by 62 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Hill, Christopher S. & Mclaughlin, Brian P. (1999). There are fewer things in reality than are dreamt of in Chalmers's philosophy. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 59 (2):445-454.   (Cited by 43 | Google | More links)
Hodges, Donald C. (1965). Minding, minds and bodies. Pacific Philosophy Forum 3 (February):74-86.   (Google)
Horowitz, Amir (2009). Turning the zombie on its head. Synthese 170 (1).   (Google)
Abstract: 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
Huenemann, Charles (2004). The Sage meets the zombie: Spinoza's wise man and Chalmers' The Conscious Mind. Studia Spinozana 14:21-33.   (Google)
Jacobson-Horowitz, Hilla & Horowitz, Amir (2008). Conceivability, higher order patterns, and physicalism. Acta Analytica 23 (4).   (Google)
Johnston, Mark (ms). It necessarily ain't so.   (Cited by 2 | Google)
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Kartik, Navin (2000). In the hands of zombies. The Dualist 7 (1):5-19.   (Google)
Kearns, Mike (online). Could Daniel Dennett be a zombie?   (Google)
Kirk, Robert E. (1977). Reply to Don Locke on zombies and materialism. Mind 86 (April):262-4.   (Cited by 1 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Kirk, Robert E. (1974). Sentience and behaviour. Mind 81 (January):43-60.   (Cited by 15 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Kirk, Robert (1999). The inaugural address: Why there couldn't be zombies. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 73 (1):1–16.   (Google | More links)
Kirk, Robert (2008). The inconceivability of zombies. Philosophical Studies 139 (1).   (Google | More links)
Abstract: If zombies were conceivable in the sense relevant to the ‘conceivability argument’ against physicalism, a certain epiphenomenalistic conception of consciousness—the ‘e-qualia story’—would also be conceivable. But (it is argued) the e-qualia story is not conceivable because it involves a contradiction. The non-physical ‘e-qualia’ supposedly involved could not perform cognitive processing, which would therefore have to be performed by physical processes; and these could not put anyone into ‘epistemic contact’ with e-qualia, contrary to the e-qualia story. Interactionism does not enable zombists to escape these conclusions
Kirk, Robert E. (1999). Why there couldn't be zombies. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 73:1-16.   (Google)
Kirk, Robert E. (online). Zombies. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.   (Cited by 5 | Google)
Kirk, Robert E. (2006). Zombies and Consciousness. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 7 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Zombies and minimal physicalism -- The case for zombies -- Zapping the zombie idea -- What has to be done -- Deciders -- Decision, control, and integration -- De-sophisticating the framework -- Direct activity -- Gap? What gap? -- Survival of the fittest.
Kirk, Robert E. (1974). Zombies vs materialists. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 48:135-52.   (Cited by 27 | Annotation | Google)
Koch, Christof & Crick, Francis (2001). On the zombie within. Nature 411 (6840):893-893.   (Cited by 22 | Google | More links)
Kraemer, Eric Russert (1980). Imitation-man and the 'new' epiphenomenalism. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 10 (September):479-487.   (Annotation | Google)
Kriegel, Uriah (2008). Review of D. Stoljar, Ignorance and Imagination. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 86:515-519.   (Google)
Kung, Peter (online). Imaginability as a guide to possibility.   (Google)
Kupffer, Manfred (online). Conceivability and the A Priori.   (Google)
Lanier, Jaron (1995). You can't argue with a zombie. Journal of Consciousness Studies 2 (4):333-345.   (Cited by 6 | Google)
Latham, Noa (1998). Chalmers on the addition of consciousness to the physical world. Philosophical Studies 98 (1):71-97.   (Cited by 7 | Google | More links)
Levine, Joseph (1998). Conceivability and the metaphysics of mind. Noûs 32 (4):449-480.   (Cited by 33 | Google | More links)
Levin, Janet (2004). The evidential status of philosophical intuition. Philosophical Studies 121 (3):193-224.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Abstract:   Philosophers have traditionally held that claims about necessities and possibilities are to be evaluated by consulting our philosophical intuitions; that is, those peculiarly compelling deliverances about possibilities that arise from a serious and reflective attempt to conceive of counterexamples to these claims. But many contemporary philosophers, particularly naturalists, argue that intuitions of this sort are unreliable, citing examples of once-intuitive, but now abandoned, philosophical theses, as well as recent psychological studies that seem to establish the general fallibility of intuition.In the first two sections of this paper, I evaluate these arguments, and also the counter-arguments of contemporary defenders of tradition. In the next two sections, I sketch an alternative account of the role of philosophical intuitions that incorporates elements of traditionalism and naturalism - and defend it against other such views. In the final section, however, I discuss intuitions about conscious experience, and acknowledge that my view may not extend comfortably to this case. This may seem unfortunate, since so much contemporary discussion of the epistemology of modality seems motivated by worries about the mind-body problem, and informed by the position one wishes to endorse. But, as I argue, if conscious experience is indeed an exception to the view I suggest in this paper, it is an exception that proves - and can illuminate - the rule
Lloyd, Dan (online). Twilight of the zombies.   (Google)
Abstract: A philosophical zombie is a being indistinguishable from an ordinary human in every observable respect, but lacking subjective consciousness. Zombiehood implies *linguistic indiscriminability*, the zombie tendency to talk and even do philosophy of mind in language indiscriminable from ordinary discourse. Zombies thus speak *Zombish*, indistinguishable from English but radically distinct in reference for mental terms. The fate of zombies ultimately depends on whether Zombish can be consistently interpreted. If it can be interpreted consistently, then zombies remain possible, but no test could ever reveal whether anyone (oneself included) is speaking Zombish. Any materialist theory of consciousness is therefore already a theory in Zombish, and is equally confirmable in its human language edition (applicable to humans) and its zombie-language edition (applicable to zombies). On the other hand, if Zombish cannot be consistently interpreted, then the zombies described in Zombish are logically impossible. Either way, the search for a materialistic theory of consciousness should be untroubled by the (possible) zombies among us
Loar, Brian (2003). Qualia, properties, modality. Philosophical Issues 1 (1):113-29.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Locke, Don (1976). Zombies, schizophrenics, and purely physical objects. Mind 83 (January):97-99.   (Cited by 2 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Luis Bermúdez, José (2007). Zombies and consciousness – Robert Kirk. Philosophical Quarterly 57 (227):306–308.   (Google | More links)
Lycan, William G. (2007). Stalnaker on zombies. Philosophical Studies 133 (3):473-479.   (Google | More links)
Lycan, William G. (2003). Vs. a new a priorist argument for dualism. Philosophical Issues 13 (1):130-47.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Back in the late 1950s, a wonderful thing happened to metaphysics
Lynch, Michael P. (2006). Zombies and the case of the phenomenal pickpocket. Synthese 149 (1):37-58.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: A prevailing view in contemporary philosophy of mind is that zombies are logically possible. I argue, via a thought experiment, that if this prevailing view is correct, then I could be transformed into a zombie. If I could be transformed into a zombie, then surprisingly, I am not certain that I am conscious. Regrettably, this is not just an idiosyncratic fact about my psychology; I think you are in the same position. This means that we must revise or replace some important positions in the philosophy of mind. We could embrace radical skepticism about our own consciousness, or maintain the complete and total infallibility of our beliefs about our own phenomenal experiences. I argue that we should actually reject the logical possibility of zombies
Mandik, Pete (ms). Transcending zombies.   (Google)
Abstract: I develop advice to the reductionist about consciousness in the form of a transcendental argument that depends crucially on the sorts of knowledge claims concerning consciousness that, as crucial elements in the anti-reductionists’ epistemicgap arguments, the anti-reductionist will readily concede. The argument that I develop goes as follows. P1. If I know that I am not a zombie, then phenomenal character is (a certain kind of) conceptualized egocentric content. P2. I know that I am not a zombie. P3. Phenomenal character is (a certain kind of) conceptualized egocentric content. P4. Fixing my physical properties fixes my conceptualized egocentric contents. C. Fixing my physical properties fixes my phenomenal properties
Marton, Peter (2000). The murderer returns: A reply on zombies to Jamie Phillips. Southwest Philosophy Review 16 (2):195-200.   (Google)
Marcus, Eric (2004). Why zombies are inconceivable. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 82 (3):477-90.   (Cited by 8 | Google | More links)
Abstract: I argue that zombies are inconceivable. More precisely, I argue that the conceivability-intuition that is used to demonstrate their possibility has been misconstrued. Thought experiments alleged to feature zombies founder on the fact that, on the one hand, they _must_ involve first-person imagining, and yet, on the other hand, _cannot_. Philosophers who take themselves to have imagined zombies have unwittingly conflated imagining a creature who lacks consciousness with imagining a creature without also imagining the consciousness it may or may not possess
Marton, Peter (1998). Zombies versus materialists: The battle for conceivability. Southwest Philosophy Review 14 (1):131-138.   (Cited by 3 | Google)
Matson, Wallace I. (ms). Logical possibility, laws of nature, and mind in the history of philosophy.   (Google)
Mathieson, Chris (2000). Reining in Chalmers: On the logical possibility of zombies. Canadian Undergraduate Journal of Philosophy.   (Cited by 2 | Google)
Matson, Wallace I. (2003). Zombies begone! Against Chalmers' mind/brain dualism. Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 24 (1):123-136.   (Google)
McCarthy, John (1995). Todd Moody's zombies. Journal Of Consciousness Studies 2 (4):345-347.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract: From the AI point of view, consciousness must be regarded as a collection of interacting processes rather than the unitary object of much philosophical speculation. We ask what kinds of propositions and other entities need to be designed for consciousness to be useful to an animal or a machine. We thereby assert that human consciousness is useful to human functioning and not just and epiphenomenon. Zombies in the sense of Todd Moody's article are merely the victims of Moody's prejudices. To behave like humans, zombies will need what Moody might call pseudo-consciousness, but useful pseudo-consciousness will share all the observable qualities of human consciousness including what the zombie will be able to report. Robots will require a pseudo-consciousness with many of the intellectual qualities of human consciousness but will function successfully with few if any human emotional conscious qualities if that is how we choose to build them
Melnyk, Andrew (2001). Physicalism unfalsified: Chalmers' inconclusive argument for dualism. In Carl Gillett & Barry M. Loewer (eds.), Physicalism and its Discontents. Cambridge University Press.   (Google)
Melnyk, Andrew (2001). Physicalism unfalsified, chalmer's inconclusive conceivability argument. In Carl Gillett & Barry M. Loewer (eds.), Physicalism and its Discontents. Cambridge University Press.   (Google)
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Abstract: In the history of modern philosophy systematic connections were assumed to hold between the modal concepts of logical possibility and necessity and the concept of conceivability. However, in the eyes of many contemporary philosophers, insuperable objections face any attempt to analyze the modal concepts in terms of conceivability. It is important to keep in mind that a philosophical explanation of modality does not have to take the form of a reductive analysis. In this paper I attempt to provide a response-dependent account of the modal concepts in terms of conceivability along the lines of a nonreductive model of explanation
Moody, Todd C. (1994). Conversations with zombies. Journal of Consciousness Studies 1 (2):196-200.   (Cited by 31 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Moody, Todd C. (1995). Why zombies won't stay dead. Journal of Consciousness Studies 2 (4):365-372.   (Cited by 2 | Google)
Murphy, Peter (2006). Reliability connections between conceivability and inconceivability. Dialectica 60 (2):195-205.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Nagel, Thomas (1998). Conceiving the impossible and the mind-body problem. Philosophy 73 (285):337-52.   (Cited by 22 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Intuitions based on the first-person perspective can easily mislead us about what is and is not conceivable.1 This point is usually made in support of familiar reductionist positions on the mind-body problem, but I believe it can be detached from that approach. It seems to me that the powerful appearance of contingency in the relation between the functioning of the physical organism and the conscious mind -- an appearance that depends directly or indirectly on the first- person perspective -- must be an illusion. But the denial of this contingency should not take the form of a reductionist account of consciousness of the usual type, whereby the logical gap between the mental and the physical is closed by conceptual analysis -- in effect, by analyzing the mental in terms of the physical (however elaborately this is done -- and I count functionalism as such a theory, along with the topic-neutral causal role analyses of mental concepts from which it descends)
Nagasawa, Yujin (2008). Zombies and consciousness - by Robert Kirk. Philosophical Books 49 (2):170-171.   (Google)
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Abstract: This paper examines some consequences of the (quasi-)epiphenomenalism implied by a property dualistic view of phenomenal consciousness. The focus is upon the variation of phenomenal content over time. A thought-experiment is constructed to support two claims. The weaker claim exhibits an incompatibility which arises in certain logically possible situations between a conscious subjecfs epistemicnorms and the requirement that one be aware of one’s conscious experience. This could be interpreted as providing some epistemic grounds for the postulation of bridging laws between the physical/functional and phenomenal domains. The stronger claim has it that the ontology of property dualism is not properly able to account for the certainty I have of being phenomenally conscious. The problem is viewed as resulting from the neglect of the intensional context involved in a proper representation of the argument for property dualism. It is argued that only a transcendental move can do justice to this certainty I have
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Phillips, Jamie L. (1998). A problem with Marton's zombies vs. materialists: The battle for conceivability. Southwest Philosophy Review 14 (2):175-178.   (Google)
Phillips, Jamie L. (1999). Can imagination provide prima facie justification for possibility? A problem for Tye. Southwest Philosophy Review 15 (1):149-156.   (Google)
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Phillips, Jamie L. (2003). Why you shouldn't believe in zombies (or their friends!). Southwest Philosophy Review 19 (1):231-238.   (Google)
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Abstract: According to the zombie conceivability argument, phenomenal zombies are conceivable, and hence possible, and hence physicalism is false. Critics of the conceivability argument have responded by denying either that zombies are conceivable or that they are possible. Much of the controversy hinges on how to establish and understand what is conceivable, what is possible, and the link between the two—matters that are at least as obscure and controversial as whether consciousness is physical. Because of this, the debate over physicalism is unlikely to be resolved by thinking about zombies—or at least, zombies as discussed by philosophers to date.



In this paper, I explore an alternative strategy against the zombie conceivability argument. I accept the possibility of zombies and ask whether that possibility is accessible (in the sense of ‘accessible’ used in possible world semantics) to our world. It turns out that the question of whether zombie worlds are accessible to our world is equivalent to the question of whether physicalism is true. By assuming that zombie worlds are accessible to our world, supporters of the zombie conceivability argument beg the question against physicalists. I will then consider what happens if a supporter of the zombie conceivability argument should insist that zombie worlds are accessible to our world. I will argue that the same ingredients used in the zombie conceivability argument—whatever they might be—can be used to construct an argument to the opposite conclusion. If that is correct, we reach a stalemate between physicalism and property dualism: while the possibility of some zombies entails property dualism, the possibility of other creatures entails physicalism. Since these two possibilities are inconsistent, one of them is not genuine. To resolve this stalemate, we need more than thought experiments.
Polcyn, Karol (2006). Conceivability, possibility, and a posteriori necessity: On Chalmers' argument for dualism. Diametros 7 (March):37-55.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Chalmers argues that zombies are possible and that therefore consciousness does not supervene on physical facts, which shows the falsity of materialism. The crucial step in this argument – that zombies are possible – follows from their conceivability and hence depends on assuming that conceivability implies possibility. But while Chalmers’s defense of this assumption – call it the conceivability principle – is the key part of his argument, it has not been well understood. As I see it, Chalmers’s defense of the conceivability principle comes in his response to the so-called objection from a posteriori necessity. The defense aims at showing that there is no gap between conceivability and possibility since no such gap can be generated by necessary a posteriori truths. I will argue that while Chalmers is right to the extent that there is no gap between conceivability and possibility within the standard Kripkean model of a posteriori necessity, his general conclusion is not justified. This is because the conceivability principle might be inconsistent with a posteriori necessity understood in some non-Kripkean way and Chalmers has not shown that no such alternative understanding of a posteriori necessity is available.
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Abstract: What can be inferred from the fact that something is, or is not, conceivable? In this paper I argue, contrary to some deflationary remarks in recent literature, that arguments which use such facts as their starting point may have significant philosophical import. I use Strawson's results from the first chapter of "Individuals" in order to show that Galileo's arguments in favor of the distinction between primary and secondary qualities, which are based on premises concerning conceivability, should not be dismissed: they are the first step towards recognizing an important conceptual truth
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Robb, David (2008). Zombies from Below. In Simone Gozzano Francesco Orilia (ed.), Tropes, Universals, and the Philosophy of Mind: Essays at the Boundary of Ontology and Philosophical Psychology. Ontos Verlag.   (Google)
Abstract: A zombie is a creature just like a conscious being in certain respects, but wholly lacking in consciousness. In this paper, I look at zombies from the perspective of basic ontology (“from below”), taking as my starting point a trope ontology I have defended elsewhere. The consequences of this ontology for zombies are mixed. Viewed from below, one sort of zombie—the exact dispositional zombie—is impossible. A similar argument can be wielded against another sort—the exact physical zombie—but here supplementary principles are needed to get to the impossibility result. Finally, at least two sorts of zombie—the behavioural and functional zombies—escape these arguments from below.
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Abstract: Edited in hypertext by Andrew Chrucky. Reprinted with the permission of Professor David Rosenthal. Editor's Note: Due to the limitation of current hypertext, the following conventions have been used. In general, if an expression has some mark over it, that mark is placed as a prefix to the expression. All Greek characters (except phi) are rendered by their names. Subscripts are placed in parentheses as concatenated suffixes: thus, e.g., H(2)O is the chemical formula for water. Sellars' dot quotes are expressed by bold periods
Rosenthal, David M. & Sellars, Wilfrid S. (1972). The Rosenthal-Sellars correspondence on intentionality. In Ausonio Marras (ed.), Intentionality, Mind and Language. University of Illinois Press.   (Google)
Abstract: In response to your kind offer to read through portions of the typescript of my thesis pertaining to your views on intentionality, I am sending you a copy of an introductory section to such a chapter.{1} The enclosed typescript represents a first draft, for which I apologize, but I thought it might be useful to get any comments you might have in at the ground floor, so to speak
Seager, William E. (ms). Are zombies logically possible? -- And why it matters.   (Google)
Abstract: A philosophical zombie is a being physically indistinguishable from an actual or possible human being, inhabiting a possible world where the _physical_ laws are identical to the laws of the actual world, but which completely lacks consciousness. For zombies, all is dark within, and hence they are, at the most fundamental level, utterly different from us. But, given their definition, this singular fact has no direct implications about the kind of motion, or other physical processes, the zombie will undergo within its own world. Under quite standard physicalist assumptions, such as certain assumptions about the 'initial conditions' of the zombie's world and that of the causal closure of the physical
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Shrader, Warren (online). Assessing the case against a posteriori physicalism.   (Google)
Skokowski, Paul G. (2002). I, zombie. Consciousness and Cognition 11 (1):1-9.   (Cited by 10 | Google | More links)
Abstract: 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
Sleutels, Jan (2006). Greek zombies. Philosophical Psychology 19 (2):177-197.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: This paper explores the possibility that the human mind underwent substantial changes in recent history. Assuming that consciousness is a substantial trait of the mind, the paper focuses on the suggestion made by Julian Jaynes that the Mycenean Greeks had a "bicameral" mind instead of a conscious one. The suggestion is commonly dismissed as patently absurd, for instance by critics such as Ned Block. A closer examination of the intuitions involved, considered from different theoretical angles (social constructivism, idealism, eliminativism, realism), reveals that the idea of 'Greek zombies' should be taken more seriously than is commonly assumed
Sommers, Tamler (2002). Of zombies, color scientists, and floating iron bars. Psyche 8.   (Cited by 2 | Google)
Abstract: a logically possible world physically identical to ours, in which the positive facts about consciousness do not hold." First, I analyze the move from conceivability to logical possibility. Following George Seddon, I consider the case of a floating iron bar and argue that even this seemingly conceivable event has implicit logical contradictions in its description. I then show that the distinctions Chalmers employs between primary and secondary intensions, and a priori and a posteriori entailment, break down upon close examination-with iron bars and with consciousness it is impossible to know where primary intensions end and secondary intensions begin. I extend this analysis of logical possibility to the famous zombie thought experiment and conclude not that a zombie world is logically _im_possible, but rather that, at present, the question is open. Finally, I show how a similar line of argument may be used to undermine the "Mary the color scientist" thought experiment as well
Squires, Roger (1974). Zombies vs materialists II. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 48:153-63.   (Cited by 2 | Google)
Stalnaker, Robert (2007). Stalnaker on zombies (response to lycan). Philosophical Studies 133 (3):481-491.   (Google)
Stalnaker, Robert (2002). What is it like to be a zombie? In Tamar S. Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Conceivability and Possibility. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 12 | Google)
Stoljar, Daniel (2006). Actors and zombies. In Alex Byrne & J. Thomson (eds.), Content and Modalities: Themes From the Philosophy of Robert Stalnaker. Oxford University Press.   (Google)
Abstract: 1. Much of contemporary philosophy of mind is dominated by the intersection of three topics: physicalism, the conceivability argument, and the necessary a posteriori. I will be concerned here (i) to describe (what I take to be) the consensus view of these topics; (ii) to explain why I think this account is mistaken; and (iii) to briefly sketch an alternative
Stoljar, Daniel (forthcoming). Review of Perry's Knowledge, Possibility, and Consciousness. Philosophical Quarterly.   (Google)
Abstract: _the subject matter assumption_ . Perry suggests that the subject matter assumption is false
Stoljar, Daniel (2001). The conceivability argument and two conceptions of the physical. Philosophical Perspectives 15:393-413.   (Cited by 9 | Google | More links)
Abstract: The conceivability argument (CA) against physicalism1 starts from the prem- ises that: (1) It is conceivable that I have a zombie-twin, i.e., that there is someone who is physically identical to me and yet who lacks phenomenal con- sciousness; and (2) If it is conceivable that I have a zombie-twin, then it is possible that I have a zombie-twin. These premises entail that physicalism is false, for physicalism is the claim—or can be assumed for our purposes to be the claim2—that
Stoljar, Daniel (2007). Two conceivability arguments compared. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 107.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: The conclusion of this argument (hereafter ZA) entails the falsity of physicalism because, technical details aside, physicalism is or entails the thesis that every psychological truth is entailed by some physical truth. If it is possible that I have a zombie duplicate however, then it is possible that the physical truths are as they are and some psychological truth is different. Hence 3 entails that physicalism is false. The second conceivability argument is one that is almost as famous, though perhaps it is less famous for being a conceivability argument: the perfect actor argument against behaviorism (see, e.g., Putnam 1963, 1975). In a version that is both familiar and relatively clear, it goes like this
Tanney, Julia (2004). On the conceptual, psychological, and moral status of zombies, swamp-beings, and other 'behaviourally indistinguishable' creatures. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 69 (1):173-186.   (Google | More links)
Thomas, Nigel J. T. (1998). Zombie killer. In Stuart R. Hameroff, Alfred W. Kaszniak & A. C. Scott (eds.), Toward a Science of Consciousness II. MIT Press.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Abstract: 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
Unwin, Nicholas (ms). Expressivism and the Metaphysics of Consciousness.   (Google)
Abstract: An expressivist theory of consciousness is outlined. The suggestion that attributions of consciousness involve an essentially projective element is carefully examined, as is the view that ‘zombism’, defined as the thought that certain people are unconscious although physically normal, is a largely affective and not wholly cognitive (hypothetical) disorder. A comparison is drawn between ‘zombism’ and the Capgras delusion. The notion of supervenience is shown to be deeply problematic when applied to projected properties, as is the distinction between weak and strong varieties. It is concluded that, contrary to most received opinion, consciousness and values are not all that different as far as these modal considerations are concerned.
Vahid, Hamid (2006). Conceivability and possibility: Chalmers on modal epistemology. Philosophical Explorations 9 (3):243-260.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: We often decide whether a state of affairs is possible (impossible) by trying to mentally depict a scenario (using words, images, etc.) where the state in question obtains (or fails to obtain). These mental acts (broadly thought of as 'conceiving') seem to provide us with an epistemic route to the space of possibilities. The problem this raises is whether conceivability judgments provide justification-conferring grounds for the ensuing possibility-claims (call this the 'conceivability thesis'). Although the question has a long history, contemporary interest in it was, to a large extent, prompted by Kripke's utilization of modal intuitions in the course of propounding certain influential theses in the philosophy of language and mind. The interest has been given a further boost by the recent two-dimensional approach to the Kripkean framework. In this paper, I begin by providing a detailed examination of a most recent attempt (due to Chalmers) to defend the thesis and argue that it is unsuccessful. This is followed by presenting my own gloss on Kripke's explanation of the illusions of contingency and I close by raising a general problem intended to undermine the prospects for a successful defense of the thesis.
van Gulick, Robert (1999). Conceiving beyond our means: The limits of thought experiments. In Stuart R. Hameroff, Alfred W. Kaszniak & David J. Chalmers (eds.), Toward a Science of Consciousness III. MIT Press.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Vierkant, Tillmann (2002). Zombie Mary and the blue banana. On the compatibility of the 'knowledge argument' with the argument from modality. Psyche 8 (19).   (Google)
Walde, Bettina (2005). On epistemic and ontological aspects of consciousness: Modal arguments and their possible implications. Mind and Matter 3 (2):103-115.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Anti-materialist thought experiments as, e.g., zombie arguments, have posed some of the most vexing problems for materialist accounts of phenomenal consciousness. I doubt, however, that arguments of this kind can refute the core thesis of materialism. Although I do not question that there is something very special about an adequate explanation of phenomenal consciousness, and although I accept the epistemic irreducibility of phenomenal consciousness, I deny that modal arguments reach far enough to establish essentialism about consciousness. I will draw upon a relativistic conception of modal space and suggest to strictly separate between varieties of metaphysical possibility - depending on which world is considered as actual, and depending on accessibility relations. It is shown that the modal argument cannot endanger the reductive explanation of the mind-brain relation if one distinguishes carefully between possibility according to primary intensions (epistemic possibility) and possibility according to secondary intensions (meta-physical possibility). Modal arguments are strong enough to make an epistemological point but not an ontological one
Weatherson, Brian (ms). Morality in fiction and consciousness in imagination.   (Cited by 2 | Google)
Webster, W. R. (2006). Human zombies are metaphysically impossible. Synthese 151 (2):297-310.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Chalmers (The Conscious Mind, Oxford Unversity Press, Oxford 1996) has argued for a form of property dualism on the basis of the concept of a zombie (which is physically identical to normals), and the concept of the inverted spectrum. He asserts that these concepts show that the facts about consciousness, such as experience or qualia, are really further facts about our world, over and above the physical facts. He claims that they are the hard part of the mind-body issue. He also claims that consciousness is a fundamental feature of the world like mass, charge, etc. He says that consciousness does not logically supervene on the physical and all current attempts to assert an identity between consciousness and the physical are just as non-reductive as his dualism. They are simply correlations and are part of the problem of the explanatory gap. In this paper, three examples of strong identities between a sensation or a quale and a physiological process are presented, which overcome these problems. They explain the identity in an a priori manner and they show that consciousness or sensations (Q) logically supervene on the physical (P), in that it is logically impossible to have P and not to have Q. In each case, the sensation was predicted and entailed by the physical. The inverted spectrum problem for consciousness is overcome and explained by a striking asymmetry in colour space. It is concluded that as some physical properties realize some sensations or qualia that human zombies are not metaphysically possible and the explanatory gap is bridged in these cases. Thus, the hard problem is overcome in these instances
Worley, Sara (2003). Conceivability, possibility and physicalism. Analysis 63 (1):15-23.   (Cited by 6 | Google | More links)
Yablo, Stephen (1999). Concepts and consciousness. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 59 (2):455-463.   (Cited by 30 | Google | More links)
Yablo, Stephen (2002). Coulda, woulda, shoulda. In Tamar S. Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Conceivability and Possibility. Oxford University Press.   (Cited by 24 | Google | More links)
Yablo, Stephen (ms). No Fool's Cold: Notes on Illusions of Possibility.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Yablo, Stephen (online). Modal rationalism and logical empiricism: Some similarities.   (Google)
Yablo, Stephen (1998). Textbook kripkeanism and the open texture of language. Philosophical Quarterly 48 (1):98-122.   (Cited by 2 | Google)