Preprint Review Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Are Brain Organoids Equivalent to Philosophical Zombies?

Version 1 : Received: 31 March 2020 / Approved: 3 April 2020 / Online: 3 April 2020 (08:14:18 CEST)

How to cite: Bitar, M. Are Brain Organoids Equivalent to Philosophical Zombies?. Preprints 2020, 2020040028. Bitar, M. Are Brain Organoids Equivalent to Philosophical Zombies?. Preprints 2020, 2020040028.


Along just over a century of research we moved from learning how to cultivate tissues in a dish to grasping the concepts for creating an entire brain in a vat. As we approach the divisive moment in which we can first detect signs of awareness in such artificially developed organoids, we need to lay foundation for what lays ahead. It is crucial that ethical, legal and moral implications of organoid research are clear and that boundaries are set to separate scientific progress from human life preservation. The largest obstacle may be the definition of consciousness itself, which has arguably been historically neglected by philosophy, psychology and neurosciences at large. One reason may be the difficulties posed by the underlying qualities of awareness, such as its subjective and heterogeneous nature. Another reason may lie on the possibly that consciousness is an overarching emergent property of our brain. For the time being, one can see brain organoids as philosophical zombies, physical analogues of the human brain which mimic sentient human reactions but lack experiential properties of sensation (a.k.a. qualia).


brain organoids; stem cells; brain in a vat


Social Sciences, Psychology

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