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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.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Email: [email protected]

Publication date: January 1, 2019

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