, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 5-19

First online:

What Exactly is the Explanatory Gap?

  • David PapineauAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, King’s College London Email author 

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It is widely agreed among contemporary philosophers of mind that science leaves us with an ‘explanatory gap’—that even after we know everything that science can tell us about the conscious mind and the brain, their relationship still remains mysterious. I argue that this agreed view is quite mistaken. The feeling of a ‘explanatory gap’ arises only because we cannot stop ourselves thinking about the mind–brain relation in a dualist way.


Explanatory gap Dualist intuition Phenomenal concepts Reductive explanatory Mind-brain identity