Erkenntnis

, Volume 78, Issue 3, pp 647–663 | Cite as

Natural Concepts, Phenomenal Concepts, and the Conceivability Argument

Original Paper

Abstract

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.

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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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