Philosophy Colloquium
Ryan Ogilvie
University of Maryland
A Puzzle About the Conceivability of Humans Without Experience

A central premise of Chalmers’ anti-materialism argument claims that we can conceive of a possible world where we hold fixed all physical facts but exclude certain phenomenological facts from obtaining. In this paper, I argue that attempting to conceive of such a scenario poses a puzzle: If, in this possible world, Roger lacks any phenomenal properties, this, itself, is a physical fact, in the same way that wood and coal lack phlogiston is a physical fact. But since both worlds share physical facts, this must be true at the actual world. But by hypothesis, Roger has phenomenal properties. Hence, the puzzle. I anticipate resistance to the idea that Roger lacking phenomenal properties is a physical fact, and address some possible (and actual) objections. However, independently of this issue, I argue that the conceivability premise is entirely question-begging.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013
3:30pm

SKN 1116