Reductive Explanation and the ‘Explanatory Gap’

Peter Carruthers

in Consciousness

Published in print May 2005 | ISBN: 9780199277360
Published online July 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191602597 | DOI:
Reductive Explanation and the ‘Explanatory Gap’

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Exponents of an ‘explanatory gap’ between physical, functional, and intentional facts, on the one hand, and the facts of phenomenal consciousness, on the other, argue that there are reasons of principle why phenomenal consciousness cannot be reductively explained. Some writers claim that the existence of such a gap warrants a belief in some form of ontological dualism, whereas others argue that no such entailment holds. In the other main camp, there are people who argue that a reductive explanation of phenomenal consciousness is possible in principle, and yet others who claim, moreover, to have provided such an explanation in practice. The focus of this chapter is on the explanatory gap itself–more specifically, on the question whether any such principled gap exists. The author argues that it does not. The debate revolves around the nature and demands of reductive explanation in general. A recent essay by Chalmers and Jackson is used as a stalking horse, since it provides the clearest, best articulated case for an explanatory gap.

Keywords: Chalmers; consciousness; explanatory gap; Jackson; reductive explanation

Chapter.  8567 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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