Sensorimotor theory, cognitive access and the ‘absolute’ explanatory gap

Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 17 (3):611-627 (2018)
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Abstract

Sensorimotor Theory is the claim that it is our practical know-how of the relations between our environments and us that gives our environmental interactions their experiential qualities. Yet why should such interactions involve or be accompanied by experience? This is the ‘absolute’ gap question. Some proponents of SMT answer this question by arguing that our interactions with an environment involve experience when we cognitively access those interactions. In this paper, I aim to persuade proponents of SMT to accept the following three claims. First, that appeals to cognitive access fail to answer the absolute gap question. Second, that SMT can be read in a way that rejects the gap question. Third, that if proponents of SMT are prepared to read SMT in a way that rejects the absolute gap question, then they can also reject the claim that cognitive access is needed to explain experience.

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Victor Loughlin
University of Antwerp

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