Are philosophical Zombies possible?

#1
A philosophical zombie is a person who acts like a human but lacks qualia (and nothing else). The whole topic is an ongoing discussion, but I heard 1 counterargument that got me think.

Philosophical zombies are impossible because there is at least 1 difference in behaviour. Philosophical zombies don't talk about qualia, as they can't experience it. The fact that we are talking about qualia shows that there is a difference. I am not quite sure if that is a good argument and I can imagine several objections. What do you think?
 
#3
I think the whole idea of p-zombies is that they can mimic everything about a truly conscious being, including speaking on qualia, while still not having any awareness or qualia of their own. Basically they'd be Human Simulator 2014, coming soon to Steam.
Hey, that's great news since Goat Simulator was good for a laugh :P


A philosophical zombie is a person who acts like a human but lacks qualia (and nothing else). The whole topic is an ongoing discussion, but I heard 1 counterargument that got me think.

Philosophical zombies are impossible because there is at least 1 difference in behaviour. Philosophical zombies don't talk about qualia, as they can't experience it. The fact that we are talking about qualia shows that there is a difference. I am not quite sure if that is a good argument and I can imagine several objections. What do you think?
I'm sorry, but who is to say philosophical zombies do not talk about qualia?
 
#4
It comes down to which theory of mind is espoused.Some materialist emergentists would say that once a cybermechanism has achieved a level of complexity necessary to perfectly mimic a conscious human being, then that configuration of matter and energy (whatever it is) will automatically be conscious and experience qualia, therefore philosophical zombies are impossible. Other materialists would say that the "human simulator" would need to simulate or emulate the specific neural organization of the human brain in order to actually be conscious; if not it might closely mimic a human but really be just a mechanism with no qualia. If this is the case philosophical zombies are possible, but artificial human consciousness is also possible. A dualist would probably say that philosophical zombies (or close approximations of them anyway) are not only possible but inevitable as cybermechanisms' imitations of human behavior improve, especially in linguistic communication. The dualist would also probably say that artificial consciousness and qualia are impossible. I would put myself in that camp.
 
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#5
Hey, that's great news since Goat Simulator was good for a laugh :P

I'm sorry, but who is to say philosophical zombies do not talk about qualia?
Hear, hear. I'm a philosophical zombie and talk about the qualia I don't experience all the time. If I weren't a philosophical zombie, I'd say I found the idea of qualia most frustrating.
 
#6
Thanks for the responses!

@TravisMontgomer

I'm sorry, but who is to say philosophical zombies do not talk about qualia?
Yeah, a possible objection. So do you think it's conceivable that philosophical zombies talk about qualia like "I feel bad" or something like that?
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#7
I think there are much better arguments - some made by Chalmers himself - than the P-zombie example.

It's too easy to attack P-zombies as begging the question.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#9
@Sciborg_S_Patel

Would you mind to name a few? Or maybe a few references? :)
Well I made a list here, with subjective experience being Point #4. I think Chalmers does a good job in the two papers I mention, first elucidating the problem then responding to critics who compare it to vitalism. I also liked Consciousness and Its Place In Nature.

There's also Clifton's Empirical Case Against Materialism, which has a Skeptiko Thread here. It's one of my personal favorites as sections 4 & 5 rebut the expected materialist positions of Eliminativism and Appeal to Complexity.

I also think Lanier offers good arguments for why computer programs can't be conscious entities in One Half a Manifesto and You Can't Argue With A Zombie. (That last one brings us full circle. :) )
 
#11
What if a witch-doctor made some P-Zombies, and had flashes of their experiences in dreams and visions, and through such experiences controlled them?
 
#13
Thanks for the responses!

@TravisMontgomery



Yeah, a possible objection. So do you think it's conceivable that philosophical zombies talk about qualia like "I feel bad" or something like that?
Well, I do think it is conceivable that they would discuss it. I mean, I talk about experience(s) I've never had, or never will have, from time to time! I talk about going to space, exploring the depths of the sea, being a mathematical genius etc. I have even spent a fair amount of time trying to wonder what it is like not to be conscious - if we even are! :P
 
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