Integrated Information Theory, Searle, and the Arbitrariness Question
Integrated Information Theory (IIT) posits a new kind of information, which, given certain constraints, constitutes consciousness. Searle objects to IIT because its appeal to information relies on observer-relative features. This misses the point that IIT’s notion of integrated information is intrinsic, the opposite of observer-relative. Moreover, Searle overlooks the possibility that IIT could be embraced as an extension of his theory. While he insists that causal powers of the brain account for consciousness, he maintains that these causal powers aren’t tied to protoplasmic material. Whatever these causal powers are (Searle doesn’t offer a positive account), they don’t consist in mere information-processing or computation. IIT agrees, and also positively characterizes the relevant causal powers as those involved in generating integrated information. Examining the further commitments of each theory reveals that IIT renews a fundamentally ontological challenge to information-processing and computational theories of mind.
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