Conclusions

If, instead of just talking about the science of consciousness, the field of consciousness studies truly wants to proceed toward it, then we should realize what is required for a field to constitute a branch science. In this paper I have argued that we need a biological research program on consciousness; a systematic, empirically based, natural-science approach which sees consciousness as a real, natural, biological phenomenon in the brain. This program is to include a view of consciousness that can be taken seriously as an empirical hypothesis.

The problems that this research program must face are not insurmountable. I have tried to show how we could start developing a view of consciousness as a biological phenomenon; as the phenomenal level of organization in the brain that first needs to be systematically described on its own terms. In order to start developing a viable metaphysical foundation for the empirically based biological research program, we need close collaboration between philosophy and empirical neuroscience, instead of the two fields finding themselves in opposition to each other. Postulating increasingly bizarre philosophical views of consciousness that could not be taken seriously as empirical scientific hypotheses will not be of much help.

The problem of isomorphism and the problem of observation or measurement of consciousness are essentially questions about capturing empirically the relevant levels of organization in the brain. The problem here is not that consciousness or something isomorphic to it hasn't been

"found" in the brain (as externalists tend to argue); rather, the problem is that we do not know how to look for such things empirically. Current brain imaging methods are not properly sensitive to the relevant levels of organization in the brain.

If we really and truly want to develop a respectable empirically based science of consciousness, the proposed biological research program (or something like it) is what I suggest we should look for. Now we have the opportunity to explore how far that sort of research program could take us in explaining consciousness, and we should not waste it by constantly trying to convince ourselves that we will never understand consciousness anyway because of some deep, dark metaphysical barriers.

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