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Claremont McKenna College, Philosophy (CMC)

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In this paper, by analyzing the Chalmers-Searle debate about Chalmers’ zombie thought experiment, I attempt to determine the implications that the irreducibility of consciousness has for the truth of materialism. While Chalmers claims that the irreducibility of consciousness forces us to embrace dualism, Searle claims that it has no deep metaphysical im- port and, in particular, that it is fully consistent with his materialist the- ory of mind. I argue that this disagreement hinges on the notion of physi- cal identity in play in the discussion. Clarifying this notion in turn helps to clarify what it means to claim that consciousness is irreducible, and provides insight into the implications that the truth of this claim would have for the dualism-materialism debate. Ultimately, I suggest that the sort of irreducibility that can be motivated by the zombie thought experiment is not sufficient to require the rejection of materialism.

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