Philosophy Index

Philosophical Zombie

In the philosophy of mind, a philosophical zombie (or a p-zombie) is a thought experiment. The zombie is a hypothetical creature that appears and behaves exactly as a human being does, but is not actually sentient. That is, the zombie is actually a mindless entity that merely goes through the motions as a living being would, but does not have experiences.

The philosophical zombie is used to consider various questions in the philosophy of mind, such as behaviourism, physicalism and mind-body dualism. The concept has also come up more recently in discussions about artificial intelligence, when addressing the question of whether or not a sufficiently advanced simulation of a human brain would have any type of concious experience, or merely be a philosophical zombie that is able to fool us into making us believe that it does.

The concept also arrives in skepticism, when one doubts that other minds exist. That is, unless there is something fundamentally flawed about the hypothetical p-zombie, there may be no way to verify whether or not other human beings are actually concious entities, rather than philosophical zombies themselves.