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CO5 - IIT and the Metaphysics of Consciousness

Prezi for the 5th Online Consciousness Conference

matteo grasso

on 12 February 2013

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Transcript of CO5 - IIT and the Metaphysics of Consciousness

IIT and the metaphysics
of consciousness Use the arrows to navigate the prezi, click to zoom
Full screen suggested (the soundtrack is up to you) A taxonomy of positions IIT and Naturalism IIT and the Epistemic Gap IIT and metaphysics The taxonomy of positions Dualism Non-reductive
monism Materialism Integrated Information Theory of consciousness (IIT) Four basic assumptions Metaphysics of consciousness Chalmers (2002) pinpoints three main paths to face up to the problem of consciousness:
non-reductive monism
I will show how these positions differ with respect to their fundamental metaphysical assumptions, and I will build a taxonomy out of them. Naturalism (N):

Causal closure of the physical world (CC):

Epistemic gap (EG):

Ontological gap (OG): In general, materialists embrace naturalism (N), states that everything in reality is physical and have only physical causes (CC), and therefore that there is no ontological gap (OG).

But, with respect to the epistemic gap:
Type-A materialists (like Churchland, 1997) deny its existence claiming that conscious experience is explainable in structural/functional terms (if not now it'll be in the future) (EG)
Type-B materialists (like Kripke, 1980) accept its existence claiming that phenomenal and physical properties are identical, but we cannot explain why (EG) This table synthesizes the various positions (and their subtypes) with respect to the basic assumptions: IIT is a neurobiological and mathematical theory for which consciousness is a measurable property (i.e. integrated information) analyzable by means of natural sciences (especially mathematics and neuroscience). Therefore, IIT definitely embraces N. Materialism Dualism Non-reductive
monism IIT's metaphysical assumptions Type-A Type-B Type-D Type-E Type-F N CC EG OG IIT and the Causal Closure Consciousness is the last surviving mystery
(Dennett, 1991) Despite consciousness seems a mystery, many scholars are trying to account for this intriguing phenomenon.

Integrated Information Theory (IIT) (Tononi, 2008) is a quantitative theory of consciousness which is getting more and more scientific confirmation.

Until now, IIT has not been object of philosophical analysis. In this presentation I will answer to the following question: which metaphysical positions about consciousness are compatible with IIT? The problem of consciousness Let's sketch IIT
and the main philosophical
positions about consciousness Consciousness is Integrated Information (Φ)
A system generates Φ iff it has:
a large repertoire of internal states
an integrated structure with causal dependence between elements
Each conscious state is highly informative because:
its occurrence rules out many alternative states (information)
every conscious state is a unique activation configuration of the whole system (integration) (Tononi, 2004, 2008) (the basic ingredients) Whatever exists is susceptible to explanation through methods which are continuous from domain to domain and which are paradigmatically exemplified in the natural sciences (Danto, 1967) Every physical event has physical causes and there aren't non-physical causes of physical events (Kim, 1998) No physical account of structure and function can explain conscious experience (Levine, 1983; Chalmers, 2002) Phenomenal properties are not reducible to physical properties (Chalmers, 2002) Now we can analyze the main philosophical positions about consciousness, with respect to the four basic assumptions. In general, dualists refuse naturalism (N) and claim the existence of two different substances for mental and physical objects; therefore, they accept the existence of both epistemic and ontological gaps (EG & OG).

But, with respect to the causal closure of the physical world (CC):
Type-D dualism (à la Descartes, 1641/1996) claims that physical events have both physical and non-physical causes (mental states can interact with physical states) (CC)
Type-E dualism describes consciousness as an epiphenomenon, a by-product of cerebral activity without any causal power on the physical world (CC) Matteo Grasso
matteo.grasso86@gmail.com Non-reductive monism constitutes the strategy of rejecting materialism without necessarily embracing substance dualism. For it, both phenomenal and physical properties are fundamental and mutually irreducible aspects of one and only metaphysical substance.

Type-F monism accepts naturalism (N) and states that only physical objects have causal power (CC). Since phenomenal and physical properties are fundamental and mutually irreducible, type-F monism posits the existence of ontological and explanatory gaps between the phenomenal and the physical realms (EG & OG). Taxonomy of metaphysical positions: materialism (type-A and type-B), dualism (type-D and E) and non-reductive monism (type-F) with respect to four basic assumptions: naturalism (N), causal closure of the physical world (CC), explanatory gap (EG), and ontological gap (OG). Now, we simply have to analyze IIT's metaphysical assumptions in order to categorize it in the taxonomy of positions. Is IIT compatible with materialism, dualism and/or non-reductive monism? Fot IIT, consciousness is the result of brain activity. It is a property that emerges from the causal interaction of physical elements, and it is produced according to the laws of physics as it is information generated by physical systems. As information, mind has no causal power on its physical substrate. IIT accepts that only physical objects can cause physical events (CC). For Tononi, a description in terms of informational relationships among different states is a full description of the content of consciousness and of how it is generated. Nevertheless, it cannot substitute for first-person experience. In a famous thought experiment (Jackson, 1986), Mary is a neuroscientist who knows all about the physical (neural) aspects of seeing red but ignores all about the phenomenal aspects, for she has never seen it first-hand. For Tononi, Mary actually learns something new when she sees red, because describing only implies knowing from the outside, while conscious experience implies "being" or knowing from the inside (Tononi, 2008). Therefore, IIT accepts EG. Since IIT accepts N, CC and EG, then it is not compatible with dualism or type-A materialism. Nonetheless, with respect to OG IIT's position is not clear, however:
If IIT accepts OG it is compatible with type-F monism
If IIT rejects OG it is compatible with type-B materialism Type-A Type-B Type-D Type-E Type-F N CC EG OG Taxonomy of metaphysical positions: materialism (type-A and type-B), dualism (type-D and E) and non-reductive monism (type-F) with respect to four basic assumptions: naturalism (N), causal closure of the physical world (CC), explanatory gap (EG), and ontological gap (OG). IIT and type-F monism Embracing type-F monism, IIT would describe consciousness as fundamental as mass and energy: in integrated systems with huge state repertoires consciousness is generated ipso facto as integrated information (Tononi, 2008). Thus, consciousness characterizes every object that generates integrated information. Phenomenal and physical are fundamental but mutually irreducible aspects of the monistic principle of reality. Therefore, as a form of type-F monism, IIT denies materialism accepting the existence of an ontological gap, but remains a monistic theory that rejects the existence of two separate substances. IIT and type-B materialism Rejecting OG, IIT would be compatible with a form of type-B materialism. Consciousness can be described as a “fundamental” property also from a materialistic perspective, even accepting the existence of an explanatory gap. Some Type-B materialists in fact claim that the identity "phenomenal properties = physical properties" is the same as "water = H 0": they are necessarily true even if we don't know a priori that they are true. In fact, as one can know truths about water without knowing a priori that water is H O, one can know truths about phenomenal properties without knowing a priori that they are physical properties (Kripke, 1980). Conclusions IIT is a promising theory; however, it has not been object of philosophical analysis yet. In my paper I show which philosophical position IIT is compatible with. A taxonomy of the main philosophical positions can be built on four basic assumptions (N, CC, EG, OG). Given its metaphysical assumptions, we can conclude IIT is compatible both with type-B materialism and type-F monism. Each position has strengths and weaknesses; however, if IIT aspires to be considered as an exhaustive theory of consciousness, its metaphysical position have to be discussed and clarified further. This analysis is just a small contribution. There is a long way to go, but a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. References: Chalmers, D. J. (2002). Consciousness and its place in nature. In Chalmers, D .J. (ed.) (2002) Philosophy of Mind. Classical and Contemporary Readings. Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press. http://consc.net/papers/nature.html
Churchland, P. S. (1997). The hornswoggle problem. In Shear, J. (ed.) (1997). Explaining Consciousness: The Hard Problem. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Danto, A. C. (1967). Naturalism. In Edwords, P. (ed.) (1967). The Encyclopedia of Philosophy. New York: The Macmillan Co. and The Free Press.
Descartes, R. (1641 / 1996): ‘Meditation VI’. In Cottingham, J. (trans.) (1996). Meditations on the First Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kim, J. (1990). Supervenience as a philosophical concept. Metaphilosophy, 21, 1-27.
Kripke, S. A. (1980). Naming and Necessity. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Levine, J. (1983). Materialism and qualia: The explanatory gap. Pacific Philosophical
Quarterly, 64, 354-61.
Tononi, G. (2003). Galileo e il fotodiodo. Roma-Bari: Laterza.
Tononi, G. (2004). An information integration theory of consciousness. BMC Neuroscience, 5, 42. http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1471-2202-5-42.pdf
Tononi, G. (2008). Consciousness as integrated information: a provisional manifesto. The Biological Bulletin, 215(3), 216-242. http://www.biolbull.org/content/215/3/216.full.pdf (Tononi, 2004, 2008) 5th Online Consciousness Conference Thanks for surfing the Prezi :) What do you want to do now? Go to the conference website:
http://consciousnessonline.com 2 2 Visit my profile on academia.edu:
http://unimi.academia.edu/MatteoGrasso Download the paper "Integrated Information Theory and the Metaphysics of Consciousness": http://consciousnessonline.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/grasso-co5.pdf - 5th Online Consciousness Conference (2013) -
Matteo Grasso
matteo.grasso86@gmail.com (click to zoom)
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