Editorial

Problems With Zombies

by Tim Madigan

One of the main characters in George Romero’s 1978 film Dawn of the Dead solemnly intones that “When there’s no room in Hell the dead will walk the earth.” Although I prefer to hold to Warren Zevon’s assertion (in his classic song ‘Monkey Wash Donkey Rinse’) that “Hell is only half-full / Room for you and me,” the fact is that the dead do seem to be walking the earth in inordinate numbers these days. It’s the time of the season for zombies. In this special issue of Philosophy Now we will be asking why this might be so, and what exactly it means for areas of philosophy such as ethics (is it wrong to kill a zombie merely because it will otherwise eat your flesh?); epistemology (just what, if anything, is going on in the mind of a zombie – or does it have a mind at all?); logic (does a zombie know that it knows nothing at all?); metaphysics (do zombies dream of a meaning of life?); and aesthetics (just why are there so many films, TV shows and novels dedicated to zombies?).

Of course, philosophy has been grappling with the so-called ‘Zombie Problem’ (otherwise known as the Problem of Other Minds) for centuries, but modern-day cognitive scientists are asking ever more complex questions about the nature of consciousness.

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