Greeting from Tucson! I am on my way out to hear a talk by Bernie Bars and Wolf Singer, so I haven’t much time. I hope to get to the comments that are building up.
I have recently been mounting an offensive against the back-from-the-dead Zombie argument against materialism. My most recent attempt was to offer a parody of the zombie argument to the effect that dualism is false (since I can conceive of non-physical zombies). This is, in my opinion, enough to show that the zombie argument against materialism is hopeless and misguided. Richard Chappell disagrees.
The zombie argument begins by providing an undisputed specification of the “physical respects” of the world. It then asks whether phenomenal consciousness logically follows from the specification. Our answer is ‘no’. That’s why physicalism is false.
This is of course nothing more than more of the usual question begging. Does phenomenal conscious follow from a complete physical description of the world that we live in? That depends on whether materialism is true or not. If it is, then OF COURSE it logically follows that there is phenomenal consciousness; if it is not then OF COURSE it doesn’t logically follow. The point is that this cannot be known a priori. To imagine otherwise is as absurd as saying that one can know a priori whether the caloric fluid theory of heat is true or not.
Chappell goes on to say
A proper analogy, then, would require building up the “non-physical zombie” world from an undisputed non-physical specification, just as we earlier built up a physical zombie world from an undisputed physical specification. But of course RB cannot do this. So that’s why the zombie argument cannot be turned against dualism in this way.
I, of course, cannot do that because there is no ‘undisputed non-physical specification’ of ANYTHING. So the fact that I cannot build up such a description is irrelevant. What is relevant is that I can imagine a creature just like me in all non-physical respects; therefore dualism is false.
OK, so I am running late…gotta go!!!
Having thought about this a bit, I am at a loss to understand why RC thinks it is so important that we ‘build up’ rather than ‘subtract’ when we do this conceiving. What’s the relevant difference?