13 July 2009

what do you call 300 philosophers in a room?

The annual conference of the Australasian Association of Philosophy was held last week in Melbourne. Amongst the papers delivered was one by Professor Declan Smithies titled 'Do Zombies Have Beliefs?' - abstract
Zombies have no phenomenally conscious states, but beliefs are not phenomenally conscious states. So, do zombies have beliefs? I argue that beliefs are individuated by their relations to phenomenal consciousness and hence that zombies do not have beliefs. The argument relies on a thesis about the epistemic role of consciousness and a thesis about the epistemic individuation of belief. I go on to explore the consequences of this argument for functionalist theories of belief. Here, I distinguish between causal and normative versions of functionalism and I argue that belief is individuated by its normative role, rather than its causal role, in reasoning.
Not surprisingly, that wasn't the only absurd paper presented. What a waste of time - zombies are brain dead. They are dead, just re-animated corpses. Of course, zombies have no beliefs. I could have presented a paper to the conference on this topic in ten seconds without the pop/mock/pseudo intellectualism.

So what would one call 300 philosophers in a room? Pointless. Discuss.

1 comment:

Declan Smithies said...


There’s an article in Nature by Christof Koch and Francis Crick (the bloke who discovered DNA) called “The Zombie Within”:


If you read it (and it’s only a page long), you’ll see that in the neuroscience of consciousness, zombies are not creatures from “Night of the Living Dead”, but unconscious systems that control behaviour.

By the way, if you’re worried about a lot of pointless time wasting, then why don’t you stop criticizing work that you haven't taken the trouble to understand?