Philosophical zombies are beings that look like human beings, act like them, drink, eat, talk, and in every other way behaviorally identical to normal human beings. However they have no inner life.

I thought it was Chalmers that invented them; but recently came across something on the net that claimed it was by Kripke; this surprises me, since I primarily know him as a modal logician. Is this claim correct? And when did this occur?

  • 1
    Can you share the cite you found?
    – Joseph Weissman
    Commented Jan 24, 2015 at 0:03
  • @weissman: too late now, I forget where I saw it. Commented Jan 24, 2015 at 12:50

2 Answers 2


Kripke formulated an argument against the identity theory (between mental and physical) which is similar in spirit to Chalmers' zombie argument, but he did not use philosophical zombies explicitely.

His argument is based on rigid designation (the fact that names are used, in natural languages, as if they were refering to essences, or necessary properties, possessed in every possible world) and the necessity of identity (if a is identical to b, it is so in every possible world). He concludes that if pain were identical to a physical brain state, it would have to be necessary so, but it is perfectly conceivable that a feeling of pain exist without the corresponding brain state (or the converse). Therefore pain is not identical to a brain state.

The argument faces the same kind of objection than Chalmers', in particular: why should we infer metaphysical possibility from conceivability?

For more details, you can read this blog post https://arigiddesignator.wordpress.com/2011/02/17/kripkes-refutation-of-identity-theory/


I always thought Chalmers but then I saw a video of Daniel Dennett claiming he was first. Said he called it the Hard Question

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