Call for Papers: The Neural Correlates of Consciousness – 20 years on

In 2000, MIT Press published the volume The Neural Correlates of Consciousness: Empirical and Conceptual Questions, edited by Thomas Metzinger. This volume compiled contributions on this central concept of the science of consciousness from a broad range of scholars from philosophy, neuroscience, psychology and adjacent fields, all of which were speakers at the second meeting of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness in Bremen (1998). The concept of a neural correlate of consciousness is in fact older than often expected, tracing back to late nineteenth and early twentieth century in the works of e.g. George Trumbull Ladd (1895), Henry Rutgers Marshall (1901) and A. P. Weiss (1917), before being put into the limelight by Francis Crick in his The Astonishing Hypothesis (1994). But it was Metzinger’s anthology that brought together neuroscientists, psychologists, anaesthesiologists, biologists and philosophers and specified the role of this concept in an emerging research program. Beside articles bringing forward specific theories or problems, the book includes the now widely accepted definition of the concept by David Chalmers: A neural correlate of a conscious state x is any neural state minimally sufficient for an x-state of consciousness. Thus, the volume gave shape and testimony to an already ongoing interdisciplinary inquiry, and thereby remains relevant to this day.

The planned volume „The NCC: 20 years on“ wants to celebrate the 20th anniversary of this issue by taking stock: A lot has happened, from specifications and critiques of the original definition to elucidations on its relation to mind-body-metaphysics, explanation, or specific neural mechanisms, from new methods for empirical investigations to new (sometimes very abstract) candidates for general NCCs. So, how far have we come and where will we be, 20 years on?

We invite inter- and intradisciplinary contributions relevant to the notion of an NCC or NCCs themselves. Contributions are invited to address for example the following topics:


1. The Concept of an NCC:

Articles may discuss specifications on definitions of a neural correlate of consciousness, critique of Chalmers’s definition, taxonomies of concepts, discussions of alternatives to NCCs, and so on.

2. The Metaphysics of the NCC:

Articles may concern the notions of correlation needed or how strong correlation needs to be in order for something to count as an NCC. Further issues are whether NCC-research can contribute to the mind-body-problem or whether it has to presuppose certain positions, whether any issues remain and problems arise when we accept that a neural state is only minimally sufficient for an experience, or how the NCC relates to the type/token- distinction. Other topics concerning the metaphysics of the NCC are welcome.

3. The Epistemology of NCC Research:

Articles in this section may target questions like: What do we need to know in order to identify NCCs? What do we gain from knowing NCCs? Where can we apply our knowledge of an NCC? How certain can we be that some neural state really is an NCC?

4. The Methodology of NCC Research:

Articles in this section may target questions like: What are the best methods to find relevant NCCs? Should we prefer spatial or temporal accuracy? What are the best paradigms to distinguish NCCs from background factors or noise? How do we test NCC-hypotheses?

3. Philosophy of Science and NCC Research:

Articles in this section will be concerned with broader issues in the philosophy of science of NCC-research, like: In which way are NCCs hypotheses to be tested? What is the role of exploratory research, case studies, or chance findings in NCC-research? Should we be realists about NCCs? Are there fundamental limitations to this research? Are there non- empirical biases introduced in this research? Do different NCC-hypotheses stand in intertheoretic conflict, i.e. which one’s cannot be true together? Is NCC-research still pre- paradigmatic or a normal science? In which sense is NCC-research different from other fields of inquiry? Can it live up to scientific standards of objectivity if it employs first- person methods?

4. Candidates for General NCCs:

Here, we invite contributions that review the status of currently discussed candidates for general NCCs.

5. Open Issues in NCC Research:

Articles in this field may cover the question of interspecies-NCCs, ethics of NCC-research and other aspects of NCC-research at the forefront of the field.

The volume as a whole is intended to take stock of the field as it is 20 years past the first volume, but all contributions must directly and substantially relate to the neural correlates of consciousness.

We encourage a range of 4.000 to 12.000 words for contributions, with APA citation style. There are no limitations on word count or on colour plates, and there are no costs for contributors. All contributors are expected to review for the journal at least one article in their field to show their support and help us keep the journal running. Due to blind peer review, no contributor can be given a guarantee that her or his contribution will make it to the final volume.

Further inquiries about this special topic can be directed to sfink@ovgu.de under the heading NCC-20YEARS.

ESTIMATED TIMELINE:

Deadline for first drafts: 1st of April 2020

Deadline for reviews: around 15th of May 2020

Deadline for revised manuscripts: 1st July 2020

Decisions concerning inclusion will be made by 15th of July 2020

Deadline for type-setting-ready manuscripts: 1st of September 2020

Estimated Date of Publication: 1st of October 2020