The explanatory gap problem in philosophy of mind

Arıkan, Pakize
A given qualitative mental experience possesses qualitative aspects, or qualia, that identify and distinguish it from other qualitative mental states. While some philosophers explained the mental phenomena by positing nonphysical kinds of entities, some others propose wholly physical explanations. Even if those physicalistic explanations of the mental shed some light on the issue of body-mind relation, Joseph Levine claims that there still exists an explanatory gap between a qualitative mental state and the physical state supposedly responsible for it, since there is no explanation of how and why a certain kind of physical state gives rise to a specific kind of quale.This thesis is an exploration of this problem and evaluation of some of the views that interpret the gap as either ontological or epistemological in order to find out whether the gap is compatible with physicalism or not. The focus is on the Phenomenal Concept Strategy that proposes a physicalistic account for the existence of the gap that is based on the character of phenomenal concepts. I examine whether this strategy is satisfactory or not and propose a possible physicalist account to the special character of phenomenal concepts.
Citation Formats
P. Arıkan, “The explanatory gap problem in philosophy of mind,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2007.