Intervening on the Causal Exclusion Problem for Integrated Information Theory
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.
KeywordsIntegrated 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.
- Mindt, G. (2017). The problem with ‘information’ in integrated information theory. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 24, 130–154.Google Scholar
- Baker, L. R. (2003). Metaphysics and mental causation. In J. Heil & A. R. Mele (Eds.), Mental causation (pp. 75–96). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Burge, T. (2003). Mind-body causation and explanatory practice. In J. Heil & A. R. Mele (Eds.), Mental causation (pp. 97–120). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Cerullo, M. (2011). Integrated information theory A promising but ultimately incomplete theory of consciousness. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 18, 45–58.Google Scholar
- Illari, P., & Russo, F. (2014). Causality: Philosophical theory meets scientific practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Kim, J. (1998). Mind in a physical world: An essay on the mind-body problem and mental causation. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Kim, J. (2005). Physicalism, or something near enough. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press/Woodstock.Google Scholar
- Kim, J. (2011). Philosophy of mind (3rd ed.). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
- Koch, C., & Tononi, G. (2013). Can a photodiode be conscious? [WWW Document]. The New York Review of Books. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2013/03/07/can-photodiode-be-conscious/. Accessed November 11, 2016.
- Searle, J. R. (2013). Can information theory explain consciousness? [WWW Document]. The New York Review of Books. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2013/01/10/can-information-theory-explain-consciousness/. Accessed October 5, 2016.
- Tononi, G., & Koch, K. (2015). Consciousness: Here, there and everywhere. Philosophical Transcations B, 370, 1–18.Google Scholar
- von Wright, G. H. (1974). Causality and determinism. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
- Woodward, J. (2003). Making things happen a theory of causal explanation. Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar