Beyond the Neural Correlates of Consciousness

In U. Kriegel (ed.), Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Consciousness. Oxford University Press (forthcoming)
Abstract
The centerpiece of the scientific study of consciousness is the search for the neural correlates of consciousness. Yet science is typically interested not only in correlation relations, but also – and more deeply – in causal and constitutive relations. When faced with a correlation between two phenomena in nature, we typically feel compelled to produce an explanation of why the two correlate. The purpose of this chapter is twofold. The first half attempts to lay out the various possible explanations of the correlation between consciousness and its neural correlate – to provide a sort of “menu” of options from which we would ultimately have to choose. The second half then raises considerations suggesting that, under certain reasonable assumptions, the choice among these various options may be in principle underdetermined by the relevant scientific evidence, in the sense that the traditional metaphysical positions may be strictly empirically equivalent. If so, the choice between them cannot in principle be a scientific one – it must be a matter of philosophical-theory choice.
Keywords Neural correlates of consciousness  causation  constitution  materialism  dualism
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