The necessity of conceivability

Synthese 200 (2):1-18 (2022)

Abstract

In his conceivability argument, Chalmers assumes that all properties have their causal powers contingently and causal laws are also contingent. We argue that this claim conflicts with how conceivability itself must work for the conceivability argument to be successful. If conceivability is to be an effective mechanism to determine possibility, it must work as a matter of necessity, since contingent conceivability renders conceivability fallible for an ideal reasoner and the fallible conceivability of zombies would not entail their possibility. But necessary conceivability must either be governed by necessitating causal processes or by a necessitating non-causal mechanism. We argue that the latter option is untenable or mysterious; whereas, if Chalmers chooses the former and applies it only to conceivability, his solution is ad hoc, but if he accepts necessary causal powers or processes generally, the conceivability argument fails. We conclude that, as it stands, the Conceivability Argument does not establish that physicalism is false.

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Author Profiles

Javier Cumpa
Complutense University of Madrid
Sophie R. Allen
Keele University

References found in this work

Epiphenomenal Qualia.Frank Jackson - 1982 - Philosophical Quarterly 32 (April):127-136.
Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness.David Chalmers - 1995 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 2 (3):200-19.
From an Ontological Point of View.John Heil - 2003 - Oxford University Press.

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