Causal Considerations in Experimental Studies on Consciousness
The consciousness studies are unavoidably linked to the mind-body problem, as most of the researchers are trying to investigate how a physical system (namely the brain) generates mental property (consciousness). To get around this problem the researchers often seem to endorse physicalism and identity theory but it is not clear to what extent, if any, does the research practice or the evidence based theories of consciousness depend on such assumptions. Here, we provide a few examples of studies investigating the so-called Neural Correlates of Consciousness (NCC). Based on these examples and the contents of the methodological papers addressing the problem of identifying the NCCs, we provide a novel, operational definition of the NCC. This allows us to shed some light on the meaning of various claims about the causal role of consciousness within the field of empirical studies. We also provide an inference rule for identifying the NCCs and the exhaustive list of the NCC confounders in the typical research paradigms.
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