Uriah Kriegel: "Beyond the Neural Correlates of Consciousness"

Lecture by Uriah Kriegel

One of the most flourishing research areas in the cognitive neuroscience of the past decade has been 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 paper is twofold. In the first place, I want 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. Secondly, however, I want to discuss considerations suggesting that, under certain reasonable assumptions, the choice among these various options cannot in principle be based on scientific evidence, in the sense that the traditional metaphysical positions are empirically equivalent.