Cosmic Hermeneutics vs. Emergence: The Challenge of the Explanatory Gap

In Cynthia Macdonald & Graham Macdonald (eds.), Emergence in Mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 22-34 (2010)
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This chapter defends Terence Horgan's claim that any genuinely physicalist position must distinguish itself from (what has been traditionally known as) emergentism. It argues that physicalism is necessarily reductive in character — it must either give a reductive account of apparently non‐physical entities, or a reductive explanation of why there are non‐physical entities. It contends that many recent ‘non‐reductive’ physicalists do not do this, and that because of this they cannot adequately distinguish their view from emergentism. The conclusion is that this is the real challenge posed by Joseph Levine's ‘explanatory gap’ argument: if physicalists cannot close the explanatory gap in Levine's preferred way, they must find some other way to do it. Otherwise their view is indistinguishable from emergentism.

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Tim Crane
Central European University


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