The full text of the target paper, Todd Moody's Conversations with Zombies is available.
JCS, 2 (4), 1995, pp.290-311
Rodney M.J. Cotterill
Danish Technical University,
It is suggested that consciousness is primarily associated not with stimuli and perception, as commonly supposed, but with movement and responses. Consciousness of stimuli arises in situations in which possible movements are planned, or in which information must be actively acquired rather than passively registered, and may or may not require overt movements to be performed. By emphasizing response, this formulation provides a simple explanation for the perceived unity of consciousness: though stimuli can be diverse, with independent components, movements must necessarily be coordinated. Therefore, if we are to look for a `site' for consciousness, it is likely to be in a region such as the anterior cingulate that is neurally close to the higher motor hierarchical levels, and also accessible both to real sensory feedback and also to virtual feedback derived through mechanisms of efference copy from actual or proposed motor commands. It is suggested that synchrony of arrival of such information may be an important prerequisite of this unity, and that on this basis such a `master node' might be expected to be temporally `equidistant' from each of these sources; this may well be true of the anterior cingulate, but no doubt also of other structures.
JCS, 2 (4), 1995, pp. 313-321
Departments of Philosophy,
Psychology, and Neurobiology
Department of Philosophy,
Todd Moody's Zombie Earth thought experiment is an attempt to show that `conscious inessentialism' is false or in need of qualification. We defend conscious inessentialism against his criticisms, and argue that zombie thought experiments highlight the difficulty of explaining why consciousness evolved and what function(s) it serves. This is the hardest problem in consciousness studies.
JCS, 2 (4), 1995, pp.322-326
Daniel C. Dennett
Center for Cognitive Studies,
11 Miner Hall,
Knock-down refutations are rare in philosophy, and unambiguous self-refutations are even rarer, for obvious reasons, but sometimes we get lucky. Sometimes philosophers clutch an insupportable hypothesis to their bosoms and run headlong over the cliff edge. Then, like cartoon characters, they hang there in mid-air, until they notice what they have done and gravity takes over. Just such a boon is the philosophers' concept of a zombie, a strangely attractive notion that sums up, in one leaden lump, almost everything that I think is wrong with current thinking about consciousness. Philosophers ought to have dropped the zombie like a hot potato, but since they persist in their embrace, this gives me a golden opportunity to focus attention on the most seductive error in current thinking.
JCS, 2 (4), 1995, pp.326-333
Department of Philosophy and Center for the Study of Language & Information,
On the basis of distinguishing three different kinds of zombies (behavioural, func- tional, physiological), I argue that Moody's argument (1994) against the conscious inessentialism thesis and physicalism is invalid, and comparatively analyse similarities as well as differences between two responses to Moody: Flanagan & Polger (1995) and Dennett (1995).
JCS, 2 (4), 1995, pp.348-351
Dept. of Philosophy,
Psychology & Cognitive Science,
Department of Computer Science,
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute,
Moody is right that the doctrine of conscious inessentialism (CI) is false. Unfortunately, his zombie-based argument against (CI), once made sufficiently clear to evaluate, is revealed as nothing but legerdemain. The fact is — though Moody has convinced himself otherwise — certain zombies are impenetrable: that they are zombies, and not conscious beings like us, is something beyond the capacity of humans to divine.
JCS, 2 (4), 1995, pp.353-358
Avshalom C. Elitzur
School of Physics and Astronomy,
Raymond and Beverly Sackler Faculty of Exact Sciences,
Moody's thought-experiment invoking zombies to demonstrate the uniqueness of consciousness is commended. His conclusions accord well with previous ones arrived at by Penrose, Chalmers and myself. All these works lead to a disturbing conclusion: consciousness, as something distinct from the brain processes, interferes with physical reality. Ergo, it is no longer possible to adhere to any of the modern theories of mind that preserve the completeness of physics. This conclusion is, in principle, testable.