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Redundancy of the Zombie Argument in The Conscious Mind

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This paper discusses the zombie argument and other antiphysicalist arguments presented by David Chalmers in his book, The Conscious Mind (1996). 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.

Keywords: Anti-physicalism; Chalmers; David; conceptual analysis; other minds; zombie argument

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2013

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