Sorting Out the Neural Basis of Consciousness Authors’ Reply to Commentators

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Our aim in ‘Are There Neural Correlates of Consciousness?’ was to call attention to some problematic assumptions of one widespread approach to investigating the relation between consciousness and the brain - the research programme based on trying to find neural correlates of the contents of consciousness (content-NCCs). Our aim was not to cast doubt on the importance of neuroscientific research on consciousness in general (contrary to Baars’s impresssion). Nor was it to engage in philosophical debates far removed from the concerns of scientists (as McLaughlin & Bartlett may think). Rather, it was to target some problematic assumptions of a particular empirical research programme, and by bringing them to light, to suggest that there may be other, more profitable ways to investigate the contribution of brain processes to conscious experience than searching for content NCCs. Most of the commentators (Bayne, Freeman, Hardcastle, Haynes & Rees, Hohwy & Frith, Metzinger, Myin, Roy, Searle, Van Gulick), though certainly not all (Baars, Jack & Prinz, McLaughlin & Bartlett) seem to have read us this way, and we are grateful for their critical reflections on our article. In this Authors’ Reply, we cannot respond in detail to every point raised by the commentators, so we shall limit ourselves to addressing the most important issues that we see arising from the commentaries collectively.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, University of California, Berkeley CA 94720-2390, USA., Email:

Publication date: January 1, 2004

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