Acta Analytica

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 77–88 | Cite as

Explanation and the Explanatory Gap

  • Elanor Taylor


“The Explanatory Gap” is a label for the idea that we cannot explain consciousness in terms of brain activity. There are many different formulations of the explanatory gap, but all discussion about it assumes that there is only one gap, which consists of the absence of a deductive explanation.

This assumption is mistaken. In this paper, I show that the position that deductive explanation is privileged in this case is unmotivated. I argue that whether or not there is an explanatory gap depends on the kind of explanation in question, so there is no single, unified explanatory gap but only the absence and (perhaps) presence of different sorts of explanation.

In Section 2, the explanatory gap is introduced. It is shown that the position that only a deductive explanation could close the explanatory gap is widely accepted, and three motivations for this position are identified: the view that all explanation is deductive, the view that all reductive explanation is deductive, and...


Mechanistic Explanation Special Science Statistical Explanation Phenomenal Concept Conceptual Connection 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Thanks to Stephen Biggs, Elizabeth Miller, Karen Neander, the audience at the Mountain Plains Philosophy Conference, and an anonymous referee for helpful discussion. Work on this paper was supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, although views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the Endowment.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Iowa State UniversityAmesUSA

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