The semantic approach as an anti-physicalist renewal of the explanatory gap problem in contemporary philosophy of mind




Canning, Adrienne

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Contemporary philosopher, Joseph Levine, has argued that human phenomenological experience cannot be explained solely through the resources of neuroscience, and that a significant ‘explanatory gap’ exists between the rich features of human experience and scientific explanations of the mind. This thesis examines Guiseppina D’Oro’s novel suggestion that the gap exists, but that it is a semantic rather than an empirical problem. D’Oro argues that the ‘gap’ is a persistent philosophical problem because of its semantic nature, and that advances in neuroscience will fail to resolve the gap because its source is a conceptual distinction that is not marked by empirical difference. In the thesis I will discuss some virtues and difficulties with D’Oro’s thesis, and the implications her claim has more broadly for philosophers of mind.



philosophy of mind, mind-body problem, physicalism, idealism, explanatory gap, semantic gap