October 15, 2022

Emergentist Integrated Information Theory

Abstract

The integrated information theory (IIT) is an ambitious theory of consciousness that aims to provide both a neuroscientific and a metaphysical account of consciousness by identifying consciousness with integrated information. In the philosophical literature, IIT is often associated with a panpsychist worldview. In this paper, I show that IIT can be considered, instead, as a form of emergentism that is incompatible with panpsychism. First, I show that the panpsychist interpretation of IIT is based on two properties of integrated information: intrinsicality and fundamentality. I show that the way IIT deals with these two properties, however, aligns better with emergentism than panpsychism. Then, after plugging some anti-panpsychist assumptions into IIT’s structure, I analyse different philosophical options for interpreting the formal result of causal emergence of integrated information in terms of dependence on and autonomy from its physical substrate. The upshot is that integrated information can be seen as dependent upon the fusion of the cause-effect powers of a physical substrate, and as autonomous in virtue of global-to-local determination. According to this interpretation, consciousness is the constraining power of the system as a whole upon itself, when this power emerges from the fusion on the cause-effect powers of the system’s components.

October 15, 2022 at 07:40PM

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