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Materialist and Casual Bridges over the Explanatory Gap


Celine Geday

Portland State University, US
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I offer that the explanatory gap about consciousness can be bridged by a materialist account that is compatible with the causal closure of the physical world. I suggest that Jaegwon Kim’s argument for causal closure is the best motivation for materialist explanations of consciousness, or the character of subjective experience. I then propose that the best materialist account available to do this explanatory work, that is also compatible with a causal closure condition, is Austen Clark’s feature-placing hypothesis. Feature-placing has it that sensory individuals, or qualitative properties, are picked out by their locations in space around a perceiver, and it accounts for preattentive perceptual processes. Feature-placing is not compatible with functionalism however, which is a solution Kim offers to epiphenomenal theories of consciousness. I hold that despite feature-placing’s problems with functionalism, Clark’s account remains compatible with causal closure because it suggests physical reduction to neural processes, like selective attention mechanisms. I conclude that causal closure, combined with the feature-placing of sensory individuals by the spatial discrimination capacities organisms have can go a far way in bridging the explanatory gap.

How to Cite: Geday, C., 2016. Materialist and Casual Bridges over the Explanatory Gap. International Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities, 8(2), pp.4 (22–34). DOI:
Published on 24 Jun 2016.
Peer Reviewed


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