Philosophical Studies

, Volume 173, Issue 9, pp 2353–2375 | Cite as

How to befriend zombies: a guide for physicalists

  • Bradford SaadEmail author


Though not myself a physicalist, I develop a new argument against antiphysicalist positions that are motivated by zombie arguments. I first identify four general features of phenomenal states that are candidates for non-physical types; these are used to generate different types of zombie. I distinguish two antiphysicalist positions: strict dualism, which posits exactly one general non-physical type, and pluralism, which posits more than one such type. It turns out that zombie arguments threaten strict dualism and some pluralist positions as much as they threaten physicalism—indeed, more so, since such positions need zombies to motivate them as alternatives to physicalism—and that the only pluralist position that escapes zombie arguments has a radically inflated ontology.


Consciousness Physicalism Zombies Dualism Conceivability 



I am grateful to Jaegwon Kim for helpful comments on two predecessors of this paper, to Josh Dever, Nina Emery, Chris Hill, and Josh Schechter for helpful comments on one predecessor of this paper, and to Robert Joynt, Han Li, Adam Pautz, and Nick Smyth for helpful discussion.


  1. Balog, K. (2012). In defense of the phenomenal concept strategy. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 84(1), 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bayne, T., & Chalmers, D. (2003). What is the unity of consciousness? In A. Cleeremans (Ed.), The unity of consciousness. New York: OUP.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bealer, G. (2002). Modal epistemology and the rationalist renaissance. In T. Gendler & J. Hawthorne (Eds.), Conceivability and possibility. New York: OUP.Google Scholar
  4. Bennett, K. (2011). By our bootstraps. Philosophical Perspectives, 25(1), 27–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chalmers, D. (2002). Does conceivability entail possibility? In T. S. Gendler & J. Hawthorne (Eds.), Conceivability and possibility (pp. 145–200). New York: OUP.Google Scholar
  6. Chalmers, D. (2010). The character of consciousness. New York: OUP.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chalmers, D. (2015). Panpsychism and panprotopsychism. In T. Alter & Y. Nagasawa (Eds.), Consciousness in the physical world: Perspectives on Russellian monism (pp. 246–276). OUP.Google Scholar
  8. Chalmers, D. (forthcoming). The combination problem for panpsychism. In G. Bruntrup & L. Jaskolla (Eds.), Panpsychism. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Coleman, S. (2012). Mental chemistry: Combination for panpsychists. Dialectica, 66(1), 137–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dasgupta, S. (2014). The possibility of physicalism. Journal of Philosophy, 111(9/10), 557–592.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Goff, P. (2009). Why panpsychism doesn’t help us explain consciousness. Dialectica, 63(3), 289–311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Goff, P. (2012). Does Mary know I experience plus rather than quus? A new hard problem. Philosophical Studies, 160(2), 223–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Jackson, F. (1982). Epiphenomenal qualia. Philosophical Quarterly, 32, 127–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Jackson, F. (2003). Mind and illusion. In A. O’Hear (Ed.), Minds and persons. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Kripke, S. (1980). Naming and necessity. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Lee, G. (2013). Materialism and the epistemic significance of consciousness. In U. Kriegel (Ed.), Current controversies in philosophy of mind. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  17. Levine, J. (1983). Materialism and qualia: The explanatory gap. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 64, 354–361.Google Scholar
  18. Lewis, D. (2009). Ramseyan humility. In D. Braddon-Mitchell & R. Nola (Eds.), Conceptual analysis and philosophical naturalism (pp. 203–222). Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  19. Montero, B. (2006). Physicalism in an infinitely decomposable world. Erkenntnis, 64(2), 177–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Nagel, T. (1974). What is it like to be a bat? Philosophical Review, 83, 435–450.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Nagel, T. (1986). The view from nowhere. New York: OUP.Google Scholar
  22. Papineau, D. (2002). Thinking about consciousness. New York: OUP.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Pautz, A. (2009). A simple view of consciousness. In R. C. Koons & G. Bealer (Eds.), The waning of materialism: New essays (pp. 25–66). New York: OUP.Google Scholar
  24. Sosa, D. (2011). Two forms of dualism. Dialogue, 50(02), 307–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. White, S. (2007). Property dualism, phenomenal concepts and the semantic premise. In T. Alter & S. Walter (Eds.), Phenomenal concepts and phenomenal knowledge: New essays on consciousness and physicalism. New York: OUP.Google Scholar
  26. Yetter-Chappell, H., & Chappell, R. Y. (2013). Mind-body meets metaethics: A moral concept strategy. Philosophical Studies, 165(3), 865–878.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Philosophy DepartmentUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

Personalised recommendations