Robots, Zombies and Us: Understanding Consciousness

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Bloomsbury Publishing, Feb 23, 2017 - Philosophy - 224 pages
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Could robots be genuinely intelligent? Could they be conscious? Could there be zombies? Prompted by these questions Robert Kirk introduces the main problems of consciousness and sets out a new approach to solving them.

He starts by discussing behaviourism, Turing's test of intelligence and Searle's famous Chinese Room argument, and goes on to examine dualism – the idea that consciousness requires something beyond the physical – together with its opposite, physicalism. Probing the idea of zombies, he concludes they are logically impossible. Having presented the central problems, he sketches his solution: a version of functionalism, according to which consciousness consists in the performance of functions.

While there is wide agreement among philosophers about what the main problems of consciousness are, there is little agreement on how to go about solving them. With this powerful case for his version of functionalism, Kirk offers an engaging introduction to both the problems and a possible solution.
 

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Contents

1 Introduction
1
2 Behaviour is not enough
9
3 Machines
19
4 Intelligent robots?
27
5 Is something nonphysical involved?
47
6 Zombies
63
7 Whats wrong with the zombie idea?
75
8 The basic package
93
9 Whats needed on top of the basic package
117
10 Functionalism
125
11 Functionalism is compulsory
139
12 Is there an explanatory gap?
151
13 Brains in vats and buckets
167
References
185
Index
187
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About the author (2017)

Robert Kirk is Emeritus Professor in the Philosophy Department at Nottingham University, UK. His books include Raw Feeling (OUP 1994), Mind and Body (Acumen 2003), Zombies and Consciousness (OUP 2005), and The Conceptual Link from Physical to Mental (OUP 2013).

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