A brood comb

….philosophical and other notes….

News From the Zombie World

Posted by Tanas Gjorgoski on April 11, 2008

He makes some of the points as I am making, and which were probably made by many opponents of epiphenomenalism so far. Though be warned! Eliezer is a physicalist, so his points are good just as far they are not related to the physicalism. ;)

UPDATE:Richard Brown started behaving as being surprised that other zombies behave as talking about epiphenomenalism those days.

UPDATE 2:Brandon has interesting remarks on the recent anti-zombie-blog-activities, and have put together a list of posts about zombies in the blogosphere in his Zombie Invasion post.

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4 Responses to “News From the Zombie World”

  1. Hello Tanasije. Nice blog. And I want to thank you for maintaining your power-blogroll.

    I was trying to catch up on the zombie discussions (which is difficult), and I read your posts. In criticizing epiphenomenalism (and I’m sympathetic to those who think it is wrong), I wonder if we’re forgetting that the zombies to point out the problem of consciousness for the materialist or physicalist.

    Physicalism is the thesis that all facts, including experiential facts, are entailed by a micro-physical description of the world. These micro-physical facts are non-experiential. So the hard problem of consciousness asks how we can get first-person experience from a world ultimately composed of non-experiential facts. You seem to grant to physicalists that they have the resources to explain consciousness by listening to reports of people claiming to be conscious. But one cannot demonstrate the existence of first person experience exists by listening to those third person reports. Do you think that is an adequate explanation? I understand why you think it is implausible that such reports could exist in the zombie world. But the point of the conceivability argument is to attack physicalism. It is to argue that the physicalist lacks the resources to explain consciousness. (Then you can choose an explanation which you think works better). You seem to grant the physicalist some resources that go beyond the thesis of physicalism (as defined by Chalmers).

    Best regards, – Steve Esser

  2. I’m very sorry for the typos in that comment. The second sentence of the second paragraph should say: “I wonder if we’re forgetting that the point of the zombie argument is to point out the problem of consciousness for the materialist or physicalist.” And there is an extra “exists” in the sentence which should say: ” But one cannot demonstrate the existence of first person experience by listening to those third person reports.”

    Again I understand the urge to attack epiphenomenalism, but the zombie argument tries to show the logical possibility (not plausibility) of zombies to defeat physicalism. – Steve

  3. Hi Steve, thanks for your comment!

    I actually fully agree with you, and I think that zombie argument is good on its own, as an attack on physicalism.

    But it seems to me that epiphenomenalism is if not in letter, then in spirit following the physicalist metaphysics of contingent laws governing ‘the stuff’ in the world. The distinction is that the epiphenomenalists have few other properties of this stuff and few other laws. But if epiphenomenalism is wrong, and if it is (by zombie argument), the logical “improvement” of that physicalist metaphysics, then epiphenomenalism can be seen as a reductio of that whole metaphysical picture in general.

    Anyway, I accept your point (and also the one raised by Brandon at Siris when he pointed to epiphenomenalism as an underdog), and I guess I should’ve mentioned that not accepting epiphenomenalism does not solve the issues raised by the zombie-argument.

  4. I understand and I think we agree about the problem with the metaphysics of the “stuff”. Thanks for the response.

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