, Volume 78, Issue 3, pp 647–663

Natural Concepts, Phenomenal Concepts, and the Conceivability Argument

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10670-012-9368-5

Cite this article as:
Jylkkä, J. Erkenn (2013) 78: 647. doi:10.1007/s10670-012-9368-5


The conceivability argument against materialism, originally raised by Saul Kripke and then reformulated, among others, by David Chalmers holds that we can conceive of the distinctness of a phenomenal state and its neural realiser, or, in Chalmers’ variation of the argument, a zombie world. Here I argue that both phenomenal and natural kind terms are ambiguous between two senses, phenomenal and natural, and that the conceivability argument goes through only on one reading of a term. Thus, the antimaterialist has to provide some reasons independent of anti-materialism itself to favour that reading of a term that supports his or her argument. Given that there are no such independent reasons, I conclude that we should put more weight on empirical considerations than on a priori discussion in resolving the question concerning the identity between a phenomenal state and its neural realiser.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Behavioural Sciences and PhilosophyUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland

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