Since 2004, Chalmers has been Professor of Philosophy, Director of the Centre for Consciousness, and an ARC Federation Fellow at the Australian National University.
Chalmers received his undergraduate degree in pure mathematics from the University of Adelaide in Australia and continued his studies at the University of Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. Chalmers received his PhD in philosophy and cognitive science from Indiana University Bloomington under Douglas Hofstadter. He was a postdoctoral fellow in the Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology program directed by Andy Clark at Washington University in St. Louis from 1993 to 1995, and his first professorship was at UC Santa Cruz, from August 1995 to December 1998. Chalmers was subsequently appointed Professor of Philosophy (1999–2004) and, later, Director of the Center for Consciousness Studies (2002–2004) at the University of Arizona, sponsor of the Toward a Science of Consciousness conference. After appearing as a plenary speaker at the first meeting, Chalmers has subsequently taken the role of co-organizer, alongside Stuart Hameroff, of this conference.
Chalmers' 1996 book, The Conscious Mind, was described by The Sunday Times as "one of the best science books of the year". In the book, Chalmers argues that all forms of physicalism (whether reductive or non-reductive) that have dominated modern philosophy and science fail to account for the existence (that is, presence in reality) of consciousness itself. He proposes an alternative dualistic view he calls naturalistic dualism (but which might also be characterized by more traditional formulations such as property dualism, neutral monism, or double-aspect theory).
He is the lead singer of the Zombie Blues band which performed at the Qualia Fest in 2012 in New York. Chalmers is an editor on topics in the philosophy of mind for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
On 14 June 2016 David Chalmers visited Moscow to hold a lecture at Moscow State University focused on solving the Hard problem of consciousness. He also gave an interview about it before holding a lecture at the Moscow State University.