Ok, Ok, I know everyone has moved on from discussing the zombie argument, and I should be grading papers, but I just can’t resist…
In an earlier post I suggested the idea of a non-physical, or reverse-zombie. A reverse-zombie is a creature who is identical to me in all non-physical ways and which lacks conscious experience. Since reverse-zombies are conceivable Dualism is false. This is the zombie argument against dualism.
Imagine a world, W, where there are creatures that have both physical and non-physical properties. Now suppose that God decided to abolish the physical components of this world along with all physical properties. The resulting world would be a world just like W except minus the physical. It is conceivable that the non-physical creatures in W lack phenomenal consciousness. If W had been actual then ‘there are reverse-zombies’ would have been true, so this is a real possibility and therefore dualism is false.
RC objects to this argument and says that we need to ‘build up’ a non-physical description of this world rather than ‘subtract out’ the physical aspects. I disagree, but for the sake of argument let’s agree. So, to adapt a way that Kripke puts the argument. Let’s imagine God making a non-physical world where there are non-physical minds and nothing physical at all, let us specify this world (call it W’) in some non-controvesial non-physical terms and let us call this specificaltion NP. Then the zombie argument against dualism can be stated in exactly the way that Chalmers’ states his argument (where ‘Q’ is there are qualia, or phenomenally conscious experience).
1. NP and ~Q is conceivable
2. If (NP & ~ Q) is conceivable, then (NP & ~ Q) is possible
3. If (NP & ~Q) is possible then Dualism is false
4. Therefore Dualism is false
The trick, of course, is getting (1). How is it conceivable that NP & ~ Q is conceivable? Well, it’s easy. Perhaps the non-physical minds are capable of doing math and logic but they never have pains or itches and tickles. In fact something like this is very likely what Descartes had in mind when he imagined non-physical minds existing seperately from the physical world. So, just like RC and company, I claim that phenomenal consciousness does not follow from a complete non-physical description of the world, and because of that dualism is false.