Major Department



College of Liberal Arts & Sciences


BA (Bachelor of Arts)

Session and Year of Graduation

Fall 2019

Honors Major Advisor

Richard Fumerton

Thesis Mentor

David Stern


My work defends Wittgenstein’s continued relevance to philosophy of mind by presenting a close exegesis of §420 of the Philosophical Investigations, a remark in which he anticipates contemporary debates concerning the conceivability of so-called “zombies”, or imaginary creatures who lack consciousness, but are otherwise identical to human beings. In §1, I survey some of the major historical developments that led to the emergence of the idea of zombies in the mid-1970’s, before discussing David Chalmers’ use of the idea in a modal argument against physicalism. In §2, I turn to the work of one of Chalmers’ most prominent opponents, Daniel Dennett, whose rejection of the conceivability of zombies is informed by the scientifically-minded approach to consciousness that he advocates. Despite avowing his influence, I argue in §§3 and 4 that Dennett’s externalist approach to consciousness diverges sharply from that taken by Wittgenstein.


Wittgenstein, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, hard problem of consciousness, zombies, automata

Total Pages



Copyright © 2019 Killian Beck