According to Chalmers, philosophical zombies are physically identical to each of us, but lack consciousness.

By 'consciousness' Chalmers means the qualitative feel we often experience. The what-it's-like to be me, to taste apples, to fear ducks, etc.

So, do zombies, by lacking this, already lack any mental states, or do they have mental states, but just no phenomenal states?

  • The "qualitative feels" are called qualia, 'consciousness' or mind is more than that. A mental state is a state of mind, so you can't have them without it. – Conifold Mar 20 '17 at 18:13
  • can be googled easily try these pages "A zombie so defined may engage in mental activities or be in mental states in what Chalmers calls a purely “psychological” sense." – anon Mar 20 '17 at 18:18
  • "philosophical zombies are physically identical to each of us, but lack consciousness." Incoherent concept, unless you're a mystic. Our physical state gives rise to consciousness, so if they aren't conscious, they can't be physically identical. Spending time talking about philosophical zombies is like arguing about squares without corners. – kbelder Mar 24 '17 at 22:03
  • I think that your comment is not relevant to my question and begs the question against Chalmers – Lukas Mar 26 '17 at 9:20

Philosophical Zombies can have mental states and would still be Zombies. The whole point of Chalmer's Zombie thought experiment is to show that having mental states isn't enough to account for subjective/phenomenological first person experience. After all, computers have "mental states" - their internal memory states and software configurations - but don't have conscious experience.

Here's one way of looking at it: Imagine that your Zombie isn't created by evil magic, but instead is a super advanced android, one that is indistinguishable externally from a human in terms of behavior and appearance. Per Chalmers, this android has internal mental states in its robotic brain, but it still doesn't have first person subjective experience.

Another way to look at the question is historically:

The main materialist position w/r to the mind body problem in the early to mid 20th century was behaviorism. This was the idea that only external behavior was observable and talk of internal mental states was unscientific, since there was no way to measure/observe them. A problem with this view was that most accepted that the same behavior could correspond to different mental states, or vice-versa. If someone is crying, are they crying tears of sadness or tears of joy?

To solve this problem, functionalism was proposed in the 1960s, which was basically "behaviorism + internal mental states" - and was inspired in part by developments in computer science (see Hilary Putnam's work on the topic for example).

Chalmers' Philosophical Zombie concept is a direct response to functionalism: That even when taking into account internal mental states, materialism (or physicalism) still fails to account for first person subjective/phenomenological experience.

  • Could you say more about what you mean when you say "materialism (or physicalism) still fails to account for first person subjective/phenomenological experience"? Are you using (or does Chalmers use) "first person subjective/phenomenological experience" as synonymous with the quality of being conscious of an experience? – ClearMountainWay Mar 21 '17 at 17:33
  • @ClearMountainWay see the second part of this reply and this reply -- note that I'm not advocating for Chalmers views, I'm only trying to explain them. – Alexander S King Mar 21 '17 at 17:47

Advaita Vedanta school of philosophy mentions that the world is MAYA ,namely it already exist but it is unreal .Some other Indian philosophies asserts that the world is the manifested God ,namely it is none but one entity ,we call it God.Nick Bostrom's simulation theory postulate that the world may be simulation ,so some of which are real and other as back ground,namely,unreal.To reconcile the three opinions of Advaita,another schools,Nick Bostrom , we postulate that behind the philosophical zombies a creator or creators who manage the p-zombies.If this creator is metaphysical such as God ,then why not he may be the creation and the creator at the same time ,so why not the p-zombies are not of absolute consciousness .

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    Do you have some references for this? Who says this, where and why? – Keelan Mar 20 '17 at 17:51
  • Like I said Advaita Vedanta school of philosophy in Hinduism asserts that the world is MAYA ,namely unreal ,another schools within Hinduism asserts that the world is manifestation of God,namely,it is none bot God .The sages of Hinduism ,concluded that from holy scriptures by meditation . – salah Mar 20 '17 at 19:15
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    Could you rewrite your answer to make it objective? Generally, posts here are written from the idea that the ideas put forward could be false, so they read like "The Advaita Vedanta school of philosophy would say that [claim], because [argument]." Also, if you could provide some references (books, articles, links) for more information, that would be very helpful. – Keelan Mar 20 '17 at 20:28
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    You should pick a different name for what you describe, maybe "spiritual zombies", etc. "Philosophical zombie" has an established meaning which is very different from yours. So most people won't understand what you are talking about if you keep using it this way. – Conifold Mar 21 '17 at 20:45

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