Formal causation in integrated information theory: an answer to the intrinsicality problem
Integrated information theory
Intrinsicality problem
Formal causation
Hard problem of consciousness
Hylomorphist approaches
Mind-brain problem
Issue Date: 
Sánchez-Cañizares, J. (Javier). "Formal causation in integrated information theory: an answer to the intrinsicality problem". Foundations of Science. 27, 2021, 77 - 94
Integrated Information Theory (IIT) stands out as one of the most promising theories for dealing with the hard problem of consciousness. Founded on fve axioms derived from phenomenology, IIT seeks for the physical substrate of consciousness that complies with such axioms according to the criterion of maximally integrated information (Φ). Eventually, IIT identifes phenomenal consciousness with maximal Φ or, what is the same thing, with the strongest cause-efect power in the system. Among the scholars critical of this theory, some point to the so-called Intrinsicality Problem (IP), namely that consciousness cannot be an intrinsic property of the system because maximal Φ crucially depends on the possible existence of bigger values of Φ if the initial system is appropriately linked to or embedded in larger systems. Although proposals in the recent literature aim to solve the IP by going beyond reductionism and physicalism, none of them tackle the real issue, i.e., the insufciency of IIT’s causal-metaphysical structure. This papers endeavors to provide a solution to the IP in IIT within a hylomorphist ontology that includes formal causation. Complementing IIT with formal causation provides the theory with a criterion of individuation that solves the IP and, by relaxing identifcation between maximal Φ and consciousness, it lends a more robust metaphysical structure. To wit, maximal Φ is a necessary but not sufcient condition for the existence of consciousness.

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