The Problem with the 'Information' in Integrated Information Theory

Journal of Consciousness Studies 24 (7-8):130-154 (2017)
Authors
Garrett Mindt
Central European University
Abstract
Integrated Information Theory (IIT) of Consciousness is becoming an increasingly popular neuroscientific account of phenomenal experience. IIT claims that consciousness is integrated information in a system. I set this theory against the hard problem of consciousness (Chalmers, 1996, 1995) as the goal for a theory of consciousness to meet. In this essay I look to examine and ultimately critique IIT’s use of the notion of information to base a theory of consciousness. I argue that the notion of information in IIT is a purely structural-dynamical notion, and so falls afoul of the structure and dynamics argument (Chalmers, 2003). I bolster these claims by appeal to the explanatory gap argument and show how IIT succumbs to this argument as well. For these reasons, I call into doubt IIT’s ability to answer the hard problem of consciousness. Although this paper argues against the notion of information in IIT, in a broader context the criticisms which I raise here can be brought against any theory that attempts to explain consciousness as an information-theoretic phenomenon.
Keywords Consciousness  Integrated Information Theory  Information  Hard Problem of Consciousness  Structure and Dynamics  Explanatory Gap
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