Organon F

2021, Pages 1–31

ISSN 2585-7150 (online) ISSN 1335-0668 (print)

Research Article

Robert Kirk’s Attempted Intellectual Filicide: Are Phenomenal Zombies Hurt?

Dmytro Sepetyi

DOI: to be assigned


In the paper, I discuss Robert Kirk’s attempt to refute the zombie argument against materialism by demonstrating, “in a way that is intuitively appealing as well as cogent”, that the idea of phenomenal zombies involves incoherence. Kirk’s argues that if one admits that a world of zombies z is conceivable, one should also admit the conceivability of a certain transformation from such a world to a world z* that satisfies a description D, and it is arguable that D is incoherent. From which, Kirk suggests, it follows that the idea of zombies is incoherent. I argue that Kirk’s argument has several minor deficiencies and two major flaws. First, he takes for granted that cognitive mental states are physical (cognitive physicalism), although a zombist is free to—and would better—reject this view. Second, he confuses elements of different scenarios of transformation, none of which results in the incoherent description D.


Consciousness; conceivability; incoherence; materialism; phenomenal zombie; possibility; normativity.

Author(s) and affiliation(s)


Dmytro Sepetyi


Zaporizhzhia State Medical University


Mayakovs'koho Ave, 26, Zaporizhzhia, Zaporizhzhia Oblast, Ukraine, 69000


About this article


6 June 2020


30 March 2021


24 May 2021

Published online

22 September 2021


Institute of Philosophy of the Slovak Academy of Sciences

Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences

Cite as

Sepetyi, Dmytro. "Robert Kirk’s Attempted Intellectual Filicide: Are Phenomenal Zombies Hurt?" Organon F 2021, 1–31.

Copyright information

© Dmytro Sepetyi

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