Cultural Studies Seminar: Mehmet Çakmak (University of Salzburg)


Sabancı University

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences



Zombies, Mary, and the Armchair



Mehmet Çakmak

University of Salzburg



Wednesday, 07 March 2012
15:30 - 17:00
FASS 2034


Materialism in philosophy contends that everything is matter, or, as the modern materialists prefer to say, that everything is physical. The rise of inflation, political decisions, moral values, cultural divergences, wars, shopping centers, our cognitive lives, etc. can all be reduced to physical facts. How would you argue that this is not so (or that it is true, if you agree)? Some philosophers have argued that you can lean back in your armchair and conclude some thought experiments: for instance, you can coherently imagine a zombie (a complete physical copy of someone that lacks conscious experiences). From this, they conclude that physicalism is false. It is surprising that the underlying assumption of most natural scientists (that there are no irreducibly non-physical properties) can be refuted so easily by doing some simple reasoning exercises. If they are right, it is not only bad news for the materialist, but also for the empiricist for that means that the armchair method can be used to prove or disprove many significant theses other than materialism.

This talk will survey some influential anti-physicalist arguments and explore as well as assess a common principle behind them. Further, Mehmet Çakmak will discuss the implications of these theses for continued research.