Abstract for Schaffer’s talk

There is said to be a special explanatory gap between the physical and consciousness, which is not present between the physical and the chemical, or in other connections from the more to the less fundamental. I aim to reconsider these arguments from a ground-theoretic perspective. I argue that there are explanatory gaps concealed in every grounding connection from the more to the less fundamental. For instance, to go from a claim about there being two H atoms and one O atom arranged and bonded in the right way, to a claim about there being a further entity with the right properties to be an H2O molecule, requires substantive metaphysical principles about when mereological composition occurs and how composites are infused with properties. Gaps of this sort must generally be bridged by substantive and conceivably-false metaphysical principles (“laws of grounding”) which bridge gaps between levels, and the gap between the physical and consciousness may be bridged in just this way. There is nothing special about consciousness in this respect.