Minds and Machines

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 331–351 | Cite as

Intervening on the Causal Exclusion Problem for Integrated Information Theory

  • Matthew Baxendale
  • Garrett Mindt


In this paper, we examine the causal framework within which integrated information theory (IIT) of consciousness makes it claims. We argue that, in its current formulation, IIT is threatened by the causal exclusion problem. Some proponents of IIT have attempted to thwart the causal exclusion problem by arguing that IIT has the resources to demonstrate genuine causal emergence at macro scales. In contrast, we argue that their proposed solution to the problem is damagingly circular as a result of inter-defining information and causation. As a solution, we propose that IIT should adopt the specific interventionist causal framework that we offer and show how IIT can harness this interventionist framework to avoid the causal exclusion problem. We demonstrate how our argument remains fully compatible with the methodology, empirical data, and conceptual aims of the theory.


Integrated information theory Interventionism Active counterfactuals Consciousness Causal exclusion Downward exclusion 



We would like to thank Larissa Albantakis, Philip Goff, Anna Kocsis, Michele Luchetti, and Carlos Montemayor for helpful comments and advice on previous drafts. Thank you to the audience of the 5th WFAP conference at the University of Vienna, at which we presented an earlier version of this paper. Thanks to three anonymous reviewers for constructive comments and suggestions. The author ordering is solely alphabetical, all work towards the development of this paper was equally shared.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Central European UniversityBudapestHungary

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