Maybe it can’t. But materialist philosophers face starkly limited choices in how to view consciousness.
In analytical philosopher Galen Strawson’s opinion, our childhood memories of pancakes on Saturday, for example, are—and must be— “wholly physical.” Taking other philosophers to task, he says,
The situation grows stranger when one reflects that almost all their materialist forebears, stretching back over 2,000 years to Leucippus and Democritus, completely reject the view that experience can’t be physical, and hold instead (as all serious materialists must) that experience is wholly physical. Russell made the key observation in 1927: “We do not know enough of the intrinsic character of events outside us to say whether it does or does not differ from that of ‘mental’ events”—whose nature we do know. He never wavered from this point. In 1948, he noted that physics simply can’t tell us “whether the physical world is, or is not, different in intrinsic character from the world of mind.” In 1956, he remarked that “we know nothing about the intrinsic quality of physical events except when these are mental events that we directly experience.” But the Deniers weren’t listening, and they still aren’t. (March 13, 2018) More.
See also: Consciousness Studies Is a “Bizarre” Field of Science
Panpsychism: You are conscious but so is your coffee mug