David Chalmers
Biography & Resources


David Chalmers is a leading philosopher in the area of philosophy of mind. He is a professor of philosophy and the director of the Center for Consciousness at the Australian National University. Prior to his position there, he was the director of the Center for Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona. Chalmers earned his PhD in philosophy and cognitive science at Indiana University Bloomington under Douglas Hofstadter. He is the author of the book The Conscious Mind (1996), which was described by The Sunday Times as "one of the best science books of the year."

He is best known for his articulation of the hard problem of consciousness in both his book and in the paper "Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness" (originally published in The Journal of Consciousness Studies, 1995). He makes the distinction between easy problems of consciousness, which are things like finding neural correlates of sensation, and the hard problem, which could be phrased as the question "why does awareness of sensory information exist at all?" A key to his argument is the distinction between neurological impulses of sensory information and the experience of them (known in philosophy of mind as qualia). He argues for the irreducibility of the experience of awareness to purely physical processes (also known as physicalism). In his argument (as it appears in his book The Conscious Mind) he makes use of the philosophical zombie, which is a hypothetical person in all respects identical to a real one, but missing qualia. After the publication of this paper, about 25 papers were published in the Journal of Consciousness Studies in response to the hard problem. These papers (by Daniel Dennett, Colin McGinn, Francisco Varela, Francis Crick, and Roger Penrose, among others) were collected and published in the book Explaining Consciousness: The Hard Problem.

Chalmers has also compiled what could be the largest bibliography on the philosophy of mind and related fields with close to 5000 annotated entries topically organized. He serves on the editorial board of the journals Consciousness and Cognition, Psyche, and the Journal of Consciousness Studies. He is an editor for the philosophy of mind series at Oxford University Press, a philosophy of mind editor for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and philosophy editor for the Macmillan Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science. He is on the board of directors of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness.

selected books

Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings (Editor)
(Oxford University Press, 2002)
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Toward a Science of Consciousness III: The Third Tucson Discussions and Debates (Complex Adaptive Systems)
with S. R. Hameroff and A. W. Kaszniak (Editors) (The MIT Press, 1999)
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Explaining Consciousness: The Hard Problem
by Jonathan Shear (Editor) (The MIT Press; Reprint edition, 1999)
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The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory (Philosophy of Mind Series)
(Oxford University Press, 1997)
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selected articles

"The Puzzle of Conscious Experience" (Mysteries of the Mind - Special Issue): A Scientific American article
(Digital, 2002)
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selected video, audio, dvd

DVD (Alsbury Films, 2005)
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other related websites


articles & interviews

Broadcasts on WIE Unbound

The Problem of Consciousness