The Problem with the 'Information' in Integrated Information Theory

Journal of Consciousness Studies 24 (7-8):130-154 (2017)
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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.

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Garrett Mindt
Florida Atlantic University

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