David Chalmers

David Chalmer is an Australian philosopher, specializing in philosophy of mind, consciousness, and language. He works as professor of Philosophy and Neural Science at New York University and as an honorary professor of Philosophy at the Australian National University. Chalmer also co-directs the Center for Mind, Brain, and Consciousness, and is a co-founder of PhilPapers Foundation, a database of journal articles for philosophers.
Chalmers’s research areas are philosophy of mind and consciousness, philosophy of languages, epistemology, and metaphysics. He is well-known for formulating the hard problem of consciousness and explaining why and how people have phenomenal and qualia experiences.

David Chalmers
Credit: preposterousuniverse.com

Education and career

Chalmers received an undergraduate degree in Pure Mathematics from the University of Adelaide in 1986. After graduation, he spent a few months hitchhiking across Europe before continuing his education at the University of Oxford. Chalmers received a Rhodes Scholarship but withdrew from the course.

David earned his Doctorate in Philosophy and Cognitive Science from Indiana University Bloomington in 1993. His doctorate thesis was entitled “Toward a Theory of Consciousness.” From 1993 to 1995, Chalmers was a Postdoctoral fellow at Washington University in St. Louis in the Philosophy-Neuroscience program.

In 1995, he joined the University of California, Santa Cruz, as a professor in the Department of Philosophy. From 1999 to 2004, Chalmers was appointed as a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Arizona, and from 2002 to 2004, as the Director of the Center for Consciousness Studies at the same university.

In 2004, David returned to Australia, where he worked as a professor of Philosophy and directed the Center for Consciousness at the Australian National University. In 2009, he joined New York University as a visiting professor, and then as a full-time professor in 2014. From 2012 to 2015, Chalmers co-directed the Center for Mind, Brain, and Consciousness at NYU.

Since 2015, Chalmers has worked as a University Professor of Philosophy and Neural Science at NYU, and starting in 2018, he began working as an Honorary Professor of Philosophy at Australian National University.

Grants and Awards


  • 1987 — Rhodes Scholarship
  • 2004 — Stanton Prize, Society for Philosophy and Psychology
  • 2004 — Federation Fellowship, Australian Research Council
  • 2006-2007 — President, Australian Association of Philosophy
  • 2006 — Fellow, Australian Academy of Humanities
  • 2008 — Jon Barwise Prize for Philosophy and Computing
  • 2010 — John Locke Lecturer, Oxford University
  • 2011 — Fellow, Academy of Social Sciences in Australia
  • 2013 — Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • 2013 — Peter Baume Award, Australian National University
  • 2014 — President, Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness
  • 2015 — Jean Nicod Prize, Institut Jean Nicod
  • 2018 — Apostolos P. Stefanopoulos Prize
  • 2020 — Marc Sanders Prize, American Philosophical Association


  • 1999 — Arizona Center for Consciousness Studies ($1,500,000). Fetzer Institute
  • 2002 — Summer Institute on Consciousness and Intentionality [with David Hoy] ($180,000). National Endowment of Humanities
  • 2004-2009 — Federation Fellowship: The Contents of Consciousness ($1,300,000). Australian Research Council
  • 2008-2010 — The High-Level Structure of Consciousness [with Ned Block and Susanna Siegel] ($300,000). Australian Research Council
  • 2010-14 — Discovery Grant: The Basis of Conscious Thought [with Uriah Kriegel] ($800,000). Australian Research Council
  • 2017-19 — Discovery Grant: The Language of Consciousness [with Daniel Stoljar] ($292,500). Australian Research Council


Philosophy of Mind

Chalmers is most well-known for formulating the “hard problem of consciousness.” Chalmers argues for an “explanatory gap” from the objective to the subjective. He criticizes physicalist explanations of mental experience, making him a dualist. Chalmers is also famous for his commitment to the logical (though not natural) possibility of philosophical zombies. Chalmers argues that consciousness is a fundamental property ontologically autonomous of any known (or even possible) physical properties. He claims that all information-bearing systems may be conscious. Chalmers maintains a formal agnosticism on the issue, even conceding that panpsychism places him at odds with most of his contemporaries.

Philosophy of language

David Chalmers also works on the “theory of reference,” which concerns how words secure their referents. Chalmers argues against Kripke’s view that a name determines its referent via a historical-causal link tracing back to the process of naming. He proposes a theory called two-dimensionalism, arguing against descriptivism, which he calls direct reference theory. Chalmers argues that there are two kinds of intension of a natural term, a stance which is now called two-dimensionalism.

Philosophy of verbal disputes

Chalmers contends that a dispute is best characterized as “verbal” when it concerns some sentence S and some term T such that the parties in the dispute disagree over the meaning of T, and the dispute arises solely because of this disagreement. He also proposes a few methods for the resolution of verbal disputes.

Technology and virtual reality

Chalmers sees virtual reality as potentially offering a life as meaningful as non-virtual reality, and he argues that we could already be inhabitants of a simulation without knowing it. Chalmers proposes that computers are forming a type of “exo-cortex,” where part of human cognition is ‘outsourced’ to corporations such as Apple and Google.


David Chalmers is the author of several books, numerous journal articles, and various book chapters. Check out the complete list of his publications below.

Books (Authored)

  • The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory. Oxford University Press, 1996.
  • The Character of Consciousness. Oxford University Press, 2010.
  • Constructing the World. Oxford University Press, 2012.

Books (Edited)

  • Toward a Science of Consciousness III: The Third Tucson Discussions and Debates (with S. Hameroff, A. Kaszniak). MIT Press, 2000.
  • Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings. Oxford University Press, 2002.
  • Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford University Press, 2009.

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

  • Chalmers, D. J., “Syntactic Transformations on Distributed Representations”. Connection Science 2: 53-62, 1990.
  • Chalmers, D. J., “Why Fodor and Pylyshyn Were Wrong: The Simplest Refutation”. Proceedings of the 12th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, 1990. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  • Chalmers, D. J., “The Evolution of Learning: An Experiment in Genetic Connectionism”. In Connectionist Models: Proceedings of the 1990 Summer School Workshop, 1990. San Mateo, CA: Morgan Kaufmann.
  • Chalmers, D. J., “Computing the Thinkable” (commentary on R. Penrose, The Emperor’s New Mind). Behavioral and Brain Sciences 13: 658-9, 1990.
  • Chalmers, D. J., French, R. M., & Hofstadter, D. R., “High-Level Perception, Representation, and Analogy: A Critique of Artificial Intelligence Methodology”. Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Artificial Intelligence 4:185-211, 1992. Reprinted in (D. R. Hofstadter) Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies. Basic Books.
  • Chalmers, D. J., “Subsymbolic Computation and the Chinese Room”. In (J. Dinsmore, ed.) The Symbolic and Connectionist Paradigms: Closing the Gap, pp. 25-48. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1992.
  • Chalmers, D. J., “Self-Ascription Without Qualia: A Case-Study” (commentary on A. Goldman, “The Psychology of Folk Psychology”). Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 1993.
  • Chalmers, D. J., “Connectionism and Compositionality: Why Fodor and Pylyshyn Were Wrong”. Philosophical Psychology 6:305-19, 1993.
  • Chalmers, D. J. “On Implementing a Computation”. Minds and Machines, 4:391-402, 1994.
  • Chalmers, D. J. “Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness”. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 2(3):200-19, 1995. Reprinted in (S. Hameroff, A. Kaszniak, & A.Scott, eds.) Toward a Science of Consciousness (MIT Press, 1996). Reprinted in J. Shear (ed.) Explaining Consciousness: the Hard Problem (MIT Press, 1997). Reprinted in (J. Heil, ed) Philosophy of Mind: A Guide and Anthology (Oxford University Press, 2003). Reprinted in (J. Vacca, ed) The World’s 20 Greatest Unsolved Problems (Prentice-Hall, 2004). Reprinted in (R. Carter) Exploring Consciousness (University of California Press, 2002). Reprinted in (M. Eckert, ed) Theories of Mind: Introductory Readings (Rowman and Littlefield). Reprinted (as “The Hard Problem of Consciousness” and “Naturalistic Dualism”) in (M. Velmans and S. Schneider, eds) The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness (Blackwell, 2007).
  • Chalmers, D. J. “Absent Qualia, Fading Qualia, Dancing Qualia”. In (T. Metzinger, ed.) Conscious Experience. Ferdinand Schoningh, 1995. Reprinted in (T. O’Connor & D. Robb, eds) Philosophy of Mind: Contemporary Readings (Routledge, 2003).
  • Chalmers, D. J. “The Puzzle of Conscious Experience”. Scientific American, 237(6):62-68, December 1995. Reprinted in (P. van Inwagen & D. Zimmerman, eds) Metaphysics: The Big Questions. Reprinted in (T. Schick & L. Vaughn, eds) Doing Philosophy: An Introduction through Thought-Experiments. Reprinted in (A. Damasio, ed) The Scientific American Book of the Brain (Lyons Press, 2001). Reprinted in (W. Lawhead( Philosophical Questions (McGraw-Hill, 2003). Reprinted in (L. Bonjour & A. Baker, eds) Philosophical Problems: An Annotated Anthology (Longman, 2004). Reprinted in (B. Beedles & M. Petracca, eds) Academic Communities/Disciplinary Conventions (Prentice-Hall, 2001). Reprinted in (B. Gertler & L. Shapiro, eds) Arguing About the Mind (Routledge, 2007).
  • Chalmers, D. J. “Minds, Machines, and Mathematics”. Psyche, 2:11-20, 1995.
  • Chalmers, D. J. “Does a Rock Implement Every Finite-State Automaton?”. Synthese 108:309-33, 1996.
  • Chalmers, D. J. “Availability: The Cognitive Basis of Experience?”. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 20:148-49, 1997. Reprinted in (N. Block, O. Flanagan, and G. Guzeldere, eds.) The Nature of Consciousness: Philosophical Debates MIT Press, 1997.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “Moving Forward on the Problem of Consciousness”. Journal of Consciousness Studies 4(1), 1997. Reprinted in (J. Shear, ed.), Explaining Consciousness: the Hard Problem. MIT Press, 1997.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “On the Search for the Neural Correlate of Consciousness”. In (S. Hameroff, A. Kaszniak, & A.Scott, eds.) Toward a Science of Consciousness II. MIT Press, 1998.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “The Problems of Consciousness”. In (H. Jasper, ed) Consciousness at the Frontiers of Neuroscience. Raven-Lippincott, 1998.
  • Clark, A., & Chalmers, D.J. “The Extended Mind”. Analysis 58:10-23, 1998. Reprinted in The Philosopher’s Annual, 1998. Reprinted in (D.J. Chalmers, ed) Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings (Oxford University Press, 2002). Reprinted in (B. Gertler & L. Shapiro, eds) Arguing About the Mind (Routledge, 2007). Reprinted in (W.G. Lycan and J. Prinz, eds.) Mind and Cognition: A Reader (Blackwell, 2007).
  • Chalmers, D.J. “Precis of The Conscious Mind“. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 1999.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “Materialism and the Metaphysics of Modality”. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 59:473-93, 1999.
  • Chalmers, D. J., “Is There Synonymy in Ockham’s Mental Language?”. In (P. V. Spade, ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Ockham. Cambridge University Press, 1999.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “What is a Neural Correlate of Consciousness?”. In (T. Metzinger, ed) Neural Correlates of Consciousness: Empirical and Conceptual Issues, pp. 17-39. MIT Press, 2000. Reprinted in (A. Noe & E. Thompson, eds) Vision and Mind: Selected Readings. MIT Press, 2002.
  • Chalmers, D.J. & Jackson, F. “Conceptual Analysis and Reductive Explanation”. Philosophical Review, 110:315-61, 2001.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “Does Conceivability Entail Possibility?”. In (T. Gendler & J. Hawthorne, eds) Conceivability and Possibility, pp. 145-200. Oxford University Press, 2002.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “The Components of Content”. In Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings. Oxford University Press, 2002.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “The St. Petersburg Two-Envelope Paradox.” Analysis 62:155-57, 2002.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “On Sense and Intension.” Philosophical Perspectives 16:135-82, 2002. Reprinted in (M. Davidson, ed) On Sense and Direct Reference: Readings in the Philosophy of Language (McGraw-Hill, 2007).
  • Chalmers, D.J. “The Content and Epistemology of Phenomenal Belief”. In (Q. Smith & A. Jokic, eds) Consciousness: New Philosophical Essays, pp. 220-72. Oxford University Press, 2003.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “Consciousness and its Place in Nature”. In (S. Stich & F., Warfield, eds) Blackwell Guide to Philosophy of Mind. Blackwell, 2003. Also in (D. Chalmers, ed) Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings. Oxford University Press, 2002. Reprinted (abridged) in (W. Lycan & J. Prinz, eds) Mind and Cognition: A Reader (Blackwell, 2007).
  • Bayne, T. & Chalmers, D.J. “What is the Unity of Consciousness?” In (A. Cleeremans, ed) The Unity of Consciousness: Binding, Integration, Dissociation, pp. 23-58. Oxford University Press, 2003.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “The Nature of Narrow Content”. Philosophical Issues 13: 46-66, 2003.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “The Matrix as Metaphysics”. Philosophy Section of thematrix.com, 2003. Reprinted in (C. Grau, ed) Philosophers Explore the Matrix. Oxford University Press, 2005.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “Epistemic Two-Dimensional Semantics”. Philosophical Studies 118:153-226, 2004.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “Imagination, Indexicality, and Intensions”. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 68:182-90, 2004.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “The Representational Character of Experience”. In (B. Leiter, ed) The Future for Philosophy, pp. 153-81. Oxford University Press, 2004.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “How Can We Construct a Science of Consciousness?” In (M. Gazzaniga, ed) The Cognitive Neurosciences III, pp. 1111-19. MIT Press, 2004.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “Phenomenal Concepts and the Knowledge Argument”. In (P. Ludlow, Y. Nagasawa, & D. Stoljar, eds) There’s Something about Mary: Essays on Frank Jackson’s Knowledge Argument Against Physicalism, pp. 269-98. MIT Press, 2004.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “The Foundations of Two-Dimensional Semantics”. In (M. Garcia-Carpintero and J. Macia, eds) Two-Dimensional Semantics: Foundations and Applications. Oxford University Press, 2006.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “Perception and the Fall from Eden”. In (T. Gendler and J. Hawthorne, eds) Perceptual Experience. Oxford University Press, 2006.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “Two-Dimensional Semantics”. In (E. Lepore and B. Smith, eds) Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Language. Oxford University Press, 2006
  • Chalmers, D.J. “Phenomenal Concepts and the Explanatory Gap”. In (T. Alter & S. Walter, eds) Phenomenal Concepts and Phenomenal Knowledge: New Essays on Consciousness and Physicalism. Oxford University Press, 2007.
  • Chalmers, D.J. & Hajek, A. “Ramsey + Moore = God”. Analysis 67:170-72, 2007.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “The Two-Dimensional Argument Against Materialism”. In (B. McLaughlin, A. Beckermann, & S. Walter, eds) Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Mind, pp. 313-335. Oxford University Press, 2009. Expanded version in The Character of Consciousness (Oxford University Press, 2010).
  • Chalmers, D.J. “Ontological Anti-Realism”. In (D. Chalmers, D. Manley, and R. Wasserman) Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology, pp. 77-129. Oxford University Press, 2009.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “Mind and Consciousness: Five Questions”. In (P. Grim, ed) Mind and Consciousness: 5 Questions. Automatic Press, 2009.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “The Singularity: A Philosophical Analysis”. Journal of Consciousness Studies 17:7-65, 2010.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “The Nature of Epistemic Space”. In (A. Egan and B. Weatherson, eds) Epistemic Modality. Oxford University Press, 2011.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “Propositions and Attitude Ascriptions: A Fregean Account”. Nous 45:595-639, 2011.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “Revisability and Conceptual Change in ‘Two Dogmas of Empiricism’”. Journal of Philosophy 108:387-415, 2011.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “Frege’s Puzzle and the Objects of Credence”. Mind 120:587-635, 2011.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “Actuality and Knowability”. Analysis 71:411-19, 2011.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “Verbal Disputes”. Philosophical Review, 120:515-66, 2011.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “A Computational Foundation for the Study of Cognition”. Journal of Cognitive Science 12:323-57, 2011.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “The Varieties of Computation: A Reply to Commentators”. Journal of Cognitive Science 13:211-48, 2012.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “The Singularity: A Reply to Commentators”. Journal of Consciousness Studies 19:141-67, 2012.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “The Contents of Consciousness: Reply to Hellie, Peacocke, and Siegel”. Analysis 73:345-68, 2013.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “Panpsychism and Panprotopsychism”. Amherst Lecture in Philosophy 2013. Also in (T. Alter and Y. Nagasawa, eds) Russellian Monism (Oxford University Press, 2015); and in (G. Bruntrup and L. Jaskolla, eds) Panpsychism (Oxford University Press, 2016).
  • Chalmers, D.J. “Strong Necessities and the Mind-Body Problem: A Reply”. Philosophical Studies 3:785-800, 2014.
  • Bourget, D.J. & Chalmers, D.J. “What do Philosophers Believe?”. Philosophical Studies 170:465-500, 2014.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “Intuitions in Philosophy: A Minimal Defense”. Philosophical Studies 171:535-44, 2014.
  • Chalmers, D.J. and Rabern, B. “Two-Dimensional Semantics and the Nesting Problem”. Analysis 74:210-24, 2014.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “Intensions and Indeterminacy: Reply to Soames, Turner, and Wilson.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 89:249-269, 2014.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “Frontloading and Fregean Sense: Reply to Neta, Schroeder, and Stanley”. Analysis 74:676-97, 2014.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “Mind Uploading: A Philosophical Analysis”. In (R. Blackford and D. Broderick, eds.) Intelligence Unbound. Wiley-Blackwell, 2014.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “Why Isn’t There More Progress in Philosophy?”. Philosophy 1:3-31, 2015.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “The Combination Problem for Panpsychism”. In (G. Bruntrup and L. Jaskolla, eds) Panpsychism. Oxford University Press, 2016.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “Referentialism and the Objects of Credence”. Mind 2016.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “The Virtual and the Real”. Disputatio, 2017.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “The Meta-Problem of Consciousness”. Journal of Consciousness Studies, August 2018.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “Structuralism as a Response to Skepticism”. Journal of Philosophy, December 2018.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “Idealism and the Mind-Body problem”. In (W. Seager, ed.) The Routledge Handbook of Panpsychism. Routledge, 2019.
  • Chalmers, D.J. “Extended Cognition and Extended Consciousness”. In (M. Colombo, E. Irvine, and M. Stapleton, eds.) Andy Clark and His Critics. Wiley-Blackwell, forthcoming.
  • Chalmers, D.J. and McQueen, K. “Consciousness and the Collapse of the Wave Function”. In (S. Gao, ed.) Consciousness and Quantum Mechanics. Oxford University Press, forthcoming.

Other Publications

  • Review of Journal of Consciousness Studies. Times Literary Supplement, November 24, 1994.
  • Review of R. Penrose, Shadows of the Mind. Scientific American, June 1995.
  • Reply to Searle. New York Review of Books, May 15, 1997. Reprinted in (J. Searle et al) The Mystery of Consciousness. New York Review Press, 1997.
  • Reply to Mulhauser. Psyche, volume 2, 1996.
  • “Consciousness in Philosophy, Cognitive Neuroscience, and Psychology 1970-1995: A Bibliography”. Co-authored with T. Metzinger. In (T. Metzinger, ed) Conscious Experience., pp. 507-54. Ferdinand Schoningh, 1995.
  • “Contemporary Philosophy of Mind: An Annotated Bibliography”. PNP Technical Report 94-05, 1994. Review of J. Yli-Vakkuri and J. Hawthorne, Narrow Content. Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, 2018.

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