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 The Zombie Argument and the Conditional Analysis

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qiheitiann



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Join date : 2010-12-03

PostSubject: The Zombie Argument and the Conditional Analysis   Fri Oct 21, 2011 9:06 pm

This post was provoked by Eric's comment. In my defense I have to say that I did not come up with this as I was writing. It had already been occupying my mind for days.

Anyway, I had some thoughts about the conditional analysis reply to the zombie argument. To summarize: the zombie argument is an argument against standard versions of physicalism. Its two major premises are 1. that it cannot be ruled out on a priori grounds that there are beings who are physically and functionally constituted the cheap jerseysway we are but who lack phenomenal consciousness (or qualia), and 2. If it cannot be ruled out on a priori grounds that there are beings physically and functionally constituted the way we are, then it is metaphysically possible that there are beings who are physically and functionally constituted the way we are but who lack phenomenal consciousness. Standard versions of physicalism entail that fixing the microphysical factscheap soccer jerseys fixes the mental facts (including facts about consciousness). So if sound, this argument refutes standard versions of physicalism.

Bob Stalnaker, John Hawthorne and David Braddon-Mitchel have defended a conditional analysis of the conceivability of zombies. It is not conceivable that there are zombies, they say. Rather, it is conceivable that it is possible that there are zombies. According to them, it is a priori that if the microphysical facts are the way they actuallyHow to buy custom made jerseys are, then there are (perhaps physically reducible) qualia. But if this conditional is a priori, then it can be ruled out on a priori grounds that there are creatures who are physically and functionally constituted the way we are but who lack phenomenal consciousness.

Torin Alter suggests that the conditional that if the microphysical facts are the way they actually are, then there are qualia may not be a priori. mlb jerseys cheapHe argues that we can come to know that we are phenomenally conscious only on the basis of experience. So the conditional that if the microphysical facts are the way they actually are, then there are qualia is a posteriori.

I think this is incorrect. Consider a case of locked-in syndrome, a case like the one depicted in the The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Jean-Dominique Bauby, the editor-in-chief of Elle, suffered a stroke that left him nearly unable to communicate with the external world. Bauby had visual experience and some very limited muscle control, which ultimately allowed him to communicate with the external world by blinking an eye. cheap nfl jerseysBut someone could plausibly be born without any outer experience at all and yet be able to form conscious thoughts or images. This suggests that our knowledge of the fact that we are conscious may ultimately be based on inner conscious states rather than outer experience. But if this is so, then it may be a priori that I have phenomenal consciousness (If it is not a priori that I exist, then it is a priori that if I exist, then I have phenomenal consciousness but I will leave aside this complication here).

If it is a priori that I have phenomenal consciousness, then it follows that it is a priori that if the microphysical facts are the way they actually are, then there are qualia. So defenders of the conditional analysis are right that this conditional is a priori. But this sort of move does not block the zombie argument. Even if I can rule out on a priori grounds that I am not phenomenally conscious, I cannot rule out on a priori grounds that other people are not phenomenally conscious and just live in inner darkness. Since it is not a priori that other people have phenomenal consciousness, it is not a priori that if the microphysical facts are the way they actually are, other people have phenomenal consciousness. So the zombie scenario is conceivable

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