How experimental neuroscientists can fix the hard problem of consciousness

Colin Klein*, Andrew B. Barron

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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For the materialist, the hard problem is fundamentally an explanatory problem. Solving it requires explaining why the relationship between brain and experience is the way it is and not some other way. We use the tools of the interventionist theory of explanation to show how a systematic experimental project could help move beyond the hard problem. Key to this project is the development of second-order interventions and invariant generalizations. Such interventions played a crucial scientific role in untangling other scientific mysteries, and we suggest that the same will be true of consciousness. We further suggest that the capacity for safe and reliable self-intervention will play a key role in overcoming both the hard and meta-problems of consciousness. Finally, we evaluate current strategies for intervention, with an eye to how they might be improved.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberniaa009
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalNeuroscience of Consciousness
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2021. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Consciousness
  • Hard problem
  • Intervention
  • Meta-problem


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