Giulio Tononi's integrated information theory (IIT) proposes explaining consciousness by directly identifying it with integrated information. We examine the construct validity of IIT's measure of consciousness,phi(Φ), by analyzing its formal properties, its relation to key aspects of consciousness, and its co-variation with relevant empirical circumstances. Our analysis shows that IIT's identification of consciousness with the causal efficacy with which differentiated networks accomplish global information transfer (which is what Φ in fact measures) is mistaken. This misidentification has the consequence of requiring (...) the attribution of consciousness to a range of natural systems and artifacts that include, but are not limited to, large-scale electrical power grids, gene-regulation networks, some electronic circuit boards, and social networks. Instead of treating this consequence of the theory as a disconfirmation, IIT embraces it. By regarding these systems as bearers of consciousnessex hypothesi, IIT is led toward the orbit of panpsychist ideation. This departure from science as we know it can be avoided by recognizing the functional misattribution at the heart of IIT's identity claim. We show, for example, what function is actually performed, at least in the human case, by the cortical combination of differentiation with integration that IIT identifies with consciousness. Finally, we examine what lessons may be drawn from IIT's failure to provide a credible account of consciousness for progress in the very active field of research concerned with exploring the phenomenon from formal and neural points of view. (shrink)
In our response to a truly diverse set of commentaries, we first summarize the principal topical themes around which they cluster, then address two “outlier” positions. Next, we address ways in which commentaries by non-integrated information theory authors engage with the specifics of our IIT critique, turning finally to the four commentaries by IIT authors.
Several influential philosophers and scientists have advanced a framework, often called Neo-Cartesianism (NC), according to which animal suffering is merely apparent. Drawing upon contemporary neuroscience and philosophy of mind, Neo-Cartesians challenge the mainstream position we shall call Evolutionary Continuity (EC), the view that humans are on a nonhierarchical continuum with other species and are thus not likely to be unique in consciously experiencing negative pain affect. We argue that some Neo-Cartesians have misconstrued the underlying science or tendentiously appropriated controversial views (...) in the philosophy of mind. We discuss recent evidence that undermines the simple neuroanatomical structure-function correlation thesis that undergirds many Neo-Cartesian arguments, has an important bearing on the recent controversy over pain in fish, and places the underlying epistemology framing the debate between NC and EC in a new light that strengthens the EC position. (shrink)
Several well-known theodicies, whatever their merits, seem to make little sense of animal suffering. Here we argue that the problem of animal suffering has more layers than has generally been acknowledged in the literature and thus poses an even greater challenge to traditional Judeo-Christian Theism than is normally thought. However, the Neo-Cartesian (NC) defence would succeed in defanging this Expanded Problem of Animal Suffering. Several contemporary philosophers have suggested that recent evidence either supports the NC view or at least should (...) decrease our incredulity with respect to it. We discuss new evidence that undermines the NC position and thus reassert the gravity of the Expanded Problem. (shrink)
We argue that the projective geometrical component of the Projective Consciousness Model can account for key aspects of pre-reflective self-consciousness and can relate PRSC intelligibly to another signal feature of subjectivity: perspectival character or point of view. We illustrate how the projective geometrical versions of the concepts of duality, reciprocity, polarity, closedness, closure, and unboundedness answer to salient aspects of the phenomenology of PRSC. We thus show that the same mathematics that accounts for the statics and dynamics of perspectival character (...) also accounts for PRSC. More generally, we argue that introducing higher-level geometrical concepts into the theory of PRSC, and into the theory of consciousness broadly, as the PCM does, promises to break longstanding theoretical impasses and dialectical stalemates. (shrink)