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Balog, Katalin. Conceivability, possibility, and the mind-body problem
1999, Philosophical Review 108 (4):497-528.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt
Abstract: In (Chalmers, 1996), David Chalmers influentially argued that if physicalism is true then every positive truth is a priori entailed by the full physical description—this is called 'the a priori entailment thesis'. However, ascriptions of phenomenal consciousness are not so entailed and thus he concludes that Physicalism is false. As he puts it, 'zombies' are metaphysically possible. I attempt to show that this argument is refuted by considering an analogous argument in the mouth of a zombie. The conclusion of this argument is false so one of the premises is false. I argue at length that this shows that the original conceivability argument also has a false premise and so is invalid.

Comment: This paper is most suitable for further reading in any course which discusses consciousness and conceivability arguments. Note that this paper was chosen by The Philosopher's Annual as one of the ten best articles appearing in print in 2000 and so is reprinted in Volume XXIII of The Philosopher's Annual.

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