Grounding the gaps or bumping the rug? On explanatory gaps and metaphysical methodology

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In a series of recent papers, Jonathan Schaffer (2017a,b) presents a novel framework for understanding grounding. Metaphysical laws play a central role. In addition, Schaffer argues that, contrary to what many have thought, there is no special ‘explanatory gap’ between consciousness and the physical world. Instead, explanatory gaps are everywhere. I draw out and criticize the methodology for metaphysics implicit in Schaffer’s presentation. In addition, I argue that even if we accept Schaffer’s picture, there remains a residual explanatory gap between consciousness and the physical. The residual gap does most of the same philosophical work as the original (e.g. in conceivability arguments). Schaffer has introduced a troublesome metaphysical methodology that fails to follow through on its biggest promise: To deflate the explanatory gap.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-203
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Consciousness Studies
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Philosophy
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Artificial Intelligence


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