These are suggested paper topics for your final paper. Some of these include more than one question; you are not required to address all of the questions listed under a particular topic. Use the book “The Conscious Mind
Book by David Chalmers” as your source of this interesting topics. I’ve suggested a bunch here, and I may suggest more after we’ve discussed more of the book. In any case, you may wish to write on something other than one of my suggested topics. If you do wish to do so, talk to me about the topic you wish to write on. Also, if you plan to write on question 11, let me know. The papers are to be approximately 1750-2200 words, double-spaced (with normal font size and normal margins). Check your papers for spelling and grammar. Remember to adequately characterize the position you are addressing, and to give and argue for your own views. The papers are due by 7 PM on December 19. Email the paper to me as a Word document. Use the subject line “my philosophy paper” without the quotation marks.
1. Are materialists committed to the logical impossibility of zombies?
2. Are zombies logically possible? Is the “just-so” story Chalmers tells about the presence of consciousness compatible with the possibility of zombies? Suppose zombies are not logically possible, do Chalmers’ other arguments in favor of the impossibility of a reductive explanation of consciousness still give adequate support for his conclusion.
3. When Chalmers attempts to set up a theory of consciousness he puts his dualism to the side. Is a scientific study of consciousness compatible with Naturalistic Dualism?
4. Chalmers vacillates between two accounts of consciousness: (1) Consciousness naturally (or nomologically) supervenes on the physical, but it does not logically supervene on the physical, or (2) Consciousness doesn’t naturally supervene on the physical, but instead requires the presence of additional non-physical (phenomenological) properties. Which of these views is his considered view? Which of these views should be his view?
5. Is consciousness ubiquitous? If so, are we (as opposed to our cells) conscious?
6. What is the phenomenological aspect of the mind? Can it be distinguished from the psychological?
7. Key to Chalmers’ argument for dualism is the claim that we cannot give a reductive explanation of the phenomenological (this is comparable to Levine’s explanatory gap). Is this correct? Is this a problem for materialists? Is reductive explanation the sort of explanation materialism is committed to give of any phenomenon? Is reductive explanation the right sense of reduction?
8. Chalmers notes that his arguments have the consequence that our knowledge about our phenomenological states is not caused by those states. This, he says, may cause discomfort, but it’s not fatal to his position. Is he right about this?
9. Is it possible that my beliefs about my experiences are really beliefs about your experiences?
10. Is consciousness better described as the ability to represent (think about) one’s experiences?
11. Pick one of the chapters we didn’t read and discuss (one of) the issues raised in that chapter.
12. Are Chalmers’ arguments for Strong AI and against Searle persuasive? How might Searle respond? Do they really show that AI is possible or simply that artificial brains are possible? (That is, do they show that we can create an artificially intelligent machine or simply that we can replicate a brain with other materials, but that the only way to generate a thinking machine is by copying the brain.)
13. Do the arguments Chalmers puts forward in favor of artificially conscious machines generalize to support the idea that there could be artificially intelligent machines? What’s the difference between the two?

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