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Essay: The Definition of Philosophical Zombies: Creatures Without Consciousness

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Core Definition. Zombies are philosophical creatures that lack consciousness and have a physical body as humans.

Philosophical zombies are different from those zombies to which audience of Hollywood films are use to. Their appearance is not a sign of an apocalypse and further destruction but rather it encompasses debate on what human consciousness is and its relation to a physical world. In fact, a philosophical zombie lacks consciousness: it is nothing to be like a zombie by definition, the inner life of this creature lacks feelings, thoughts and experience (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2015).

A zombie looks and behaves exactly like people from the perspective of a third person. The elements of zombie’s body structure are the same as well as functions of it comparing to a human being. Their body and organs consist from the same elements and molecules as humans. Skin and bones comprise his body. He breathes air into his lungs, eats when his body lacks fuel, walks from point A to point B. Zombies even go to work and can have a family. These creatures laugh if someone tells them a joke. However, zombie does not feel joy and happiness while returning to their family or friends. In fact, zombies have no system of causal relationship between body and mind. There are only physical properties in them. Therefore, a zombie lacks phenomenal consciousness and does not have an ability to experience things in a subjective manner or gain knowledge. From the perspective of a conscious being, zombies look the same as the ordinary human being that is capable of having inner thoughts and body sensations.

According to Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy,

The simplest version of the conceivability argument goes:

Zombies are conceivable.

Whatever is conceivable is possible.

Therefore zombies are possible.

The first premise of a zombie argument is that we can conceive a creature without consciousness that is microphysically identical to a structure of a human being (Montero, 2009). In fact, there are two types of conceivable objects: negatively and positively conceivable ones. If the state of affairs cannot be ruled out a priori and has a contradiction inside of its hypothesis that it has obtained than it is negatively conceivable. However, if a person can imagine a scenario in which state of affairs holds and we can continue this perspective to an arbitrary degree of detail – it is positively a conceivable object. For instance, it is impossible to conceive a square circle. However, we can imagine how the house that will look like after the process of redesigning. As I have already discussed a zombie looks the same as an ordinary human being. Therefore, the first premise looks plausible. Nevertheless, it can be argued that it is not as easy as it might seem from the first sight to imagine such creature without complete knowledge of our physical world. Such perspective is called Russelian monism and I will discuss it latter.

The second premise of the conceivability argument follows the idea that we can conceive zombie and therefore there is probability that such object can exists metaphysically. In fact, given the laws of our natural world zombies do not exist. Any being that has identical mental properties to me or you will have consciousness.

In fact, most of the objections to my position are based on a posteriori necessity. Even if we agree that zombies are conceivable, it does not derive a possibility of existence of such creatures. In fact, to conceive an object is an epistemic notion, while possibility is related to metaphysics (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2015). To discuss, if we can conceive a flying pig, it does not logically mean that this pink flying object can exist. Given that, a duplicate world of our physical world is based on the same positive facts in relation to states of the body that are responsible for the sensory experience. Thus, the duplicate world of zombies might be only a fantasy and not metaphysically possible. In fact, it has different natural laws from our world by its definition that violates the inner construction of a human being.

Intrinsic properties organize the system of our realm, while science (physics, chemistry, etc.) is used to discover them from the dualism perspective (O'Hear, 1998). In fact, we do not know everything about our physical world. Therefore, zombie argument can not be sound if we can not be sure on how to conceive a zombie due to the lack of knowledge. In fact, it might seem that we can imagine zombie that are physical duplicates of people but without minds. However, if do not have complete knowledge and can not properly understand how human body works, the creature that we have imagined might not be possible. Possible mistakes made by imagination are crucial for opponents of zombie argument to consider that we can not conceive zombies adequately. Actually, we can make an analogy with making an architecture plan of a building. An architect might not know the correct properties of landscape and ground on which building is going to be built. Thus, physically constructing such building that does not fit in the place will most likely result into a catastrophe. Therefore, we can not state that imagining a zombie is an easy work for our minds. While, the whole idea of zombie appears controversial.

Montero, B. (2009). On the philosophy of mind. 1st ed. Belmont: Wadsworth.

O'Hear, A. (1998). Current issues in philosophy of mind. 1st ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ravenscroft, I. (2005). Philosophy of mind. 1st ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (2015). Zombies. [online] Available at: https://plato.stanford.edu… [Accessed 15 Apr. 201

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