Is Consciousness Intrinsic?: A Problem for the Integrated Information Theory

Journal of Consciousness Studies 26 (1-2):133-162(30) (2019)

Authors
Hedda Hassel Mørch
Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences
Abstract
The Integrated Information Theory of consciousness (IIT) claims that consciousness is identical to maximal integrated information, or maximal Φ. One objection to IIT is based on what may be called the intrinsicality problem: consciousness is an intrinsic property, but maximal Φ is an extrinsic property; therefore, they cannot be identical. In this paper, I show that this problem is not unique to IIT, but rather derives from a trilemma that confronts almost any theory of consciousness. Given most theories of consciousness, the following three claims are inconsistent. INTRINSICALITY: Consciousness is intrinsic. NON-OVERLAP: Conscious systems do not overlap with other conscious systems (a la Unger’s problem of the many). REDUCTIONISM: Consciousness is constituted by more fundamental properties (as per standard versions of physicalism and Russellian monism). In view of this, I will consider whether rejecting INTRINSICALITY is necessarily less plausible than rejecting NON-OVERLAP or REDUCTIONISM. I will also consider whether IIT is necessarily committed to rejecting INTRINSICALITY or whether it could also accept solutions that reject NON-OVERLAP or REDUCTIONISM instead. I will suggest that the best option for IIT may be a solution that rejects REDUCTIONISM rather than INTRINSICALITY or NON-OVERLAP.
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