Objective correlates—behavioral, functional, and neural—provide essential tools for the scientific study of consciousness. But reliance on these correlates should not lead to the ‘fallacy of misplaced objectivity’: the assumption that only objective properties should and can be accounted for objectively through science. Instead, what needs to be explained scientifically is what experience is intrinsically— its subjective properties—not just what we can do with it extrinsically. And it must be explained; otherwise the way experience feels would turn out to be magical (...) rather than physical. We argue that it is possible to account for subjective properties objectively once we move beyond cognitive functions and realize what experience is and how it is structured. Drawing on integrated information theory, we show how an objective science of the subjective can account, in strictly physical terms, for both the essential properties of every experience and the specific properties that make particular experiences feel the way they do. (shrink)
The target article misrepresents the foundations of integrated information theory and ignores many essential publications. It, thus, falls to this lead commentary to outline the axioms and postulates of IIT and correct major misconceptions. The commentary also explains why IIT starts from phenomenology and why it predicts that only select physical substrates can support consciousness. Finally, it highlights that IIT's account of experience – a cause–effect structure quantified by integrated information – has nothing to do with “information transfer.”.
This paper presents Integrated Information Theory (IIT) 4.0. IIT aims to account for the properties of experience in physical (operational) terms. It identifies the essential properties of experience (axioms), infers the necessary and sufficient properties that its substrate must satisfy (postulates), and expresses them in mathematical terms. In principle, the postulates can be applied to any system of units in a state to determine whether it is conscious, to what degree, and in what way. IIT offers a parsimonious explanation of (...) empirical evidence, makes testable predictions, and permits inferences and extrapolations. IIT 4.0 incorporates several developments of the past ten years, including a more accurate translation of axioms into postulates and mathematical expressions, the introduction of a unique measure of intrinsic information that is consistent with the postulates, and an explicit assessment of causal relations. By fully unfolding a system's irreducible cause-effect power, the distinctions and relations specified by a substrate can account for the quality of experience. (shrink)