Skip to content →

Qualia vs Correlates: Who’s Right?

The NYR of Books has a bit of an exchange, here, in an argument between a neuroscientist and a philosopher.

Personally, I’m on the philosopher’s side. McGinn writes:

Philosophers want to know whether free will is possible in a deterministic world and whether qualia are reducible to brain states (among many other things): these questions are not going to be resolved by discovering the neural correlates of such things.

But I’m not 100% sure. Maybe if you discover enough interesting things about correlates, you suddenly find one new piece of information that leads you to the qualia? If you study the properties of oil paints long enough, do you learn something about the nature of paintings? I don’t think so, but maaaaybe.

So far, no sign of how that would happen.

Published in blog