DPhil Seminar (Tuesday - Week 6, MT22)

chess king white background victory shadow black 1418482 pxhere com

The explanatory gap theory (EGT) states that physicalist and functionalist accounts of consciousness leave out an essential aspect of conscious states, namely their subjective, phenomenal aspect. This issue is often put in terms of the lack of a priori entailment between the physical and the phenomenal: an ideal reasoner with complete knowledge of the fundamental physical facts would be unable to derive a priori whether such facts “give rise” to conscious experience. In this sense EGT seems to rely on the idea that, in most cases, we can (in principle) derive high-level facts a priori from low-level facts, but consciousness is an exception. However, since theories such as mereological nihilism seem a priori coherent, it can be argued that there is no a priori entailment between, e.g., facts about particles arranged “table-wise” and facts about tables. Hence, Schaffer (2017) claims that explanatory gap theorists must endorse a form of deflationism about mereological questions to maintain that the psycho-physical gap is an exceptional case. By contrast, I argue that EGT is not committed to deflationism about mereology: the exceptionalist claim is compatible with an inflationist treatment of mereological questions.

The talk will be in person.

See the DPhil Seminar website for details.

DPhil Seminar Convenor: Mariona Miyata - Sturm