Transcendental Consciousness: Integrated Information Theory and Constitutive A Priori Fist Principles (2021)

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This paper engages with the epistemological foundations of Integrated Information Theory (IIT), which have recently been questioned from different angles. A recurrent motif of the skeptical attacks involves IIT’s central identity, according to which a particular conscious experience is identical with a particular Maximally Irreducible Cause-effect Structure (MICS). This implies that the same existence is described by the axioms from the phenomenological perspective, and by the postulates in causal terms. My argument is meant to strengthen the theory’s foundations by showing that the identity is a constitutive a priori first principle. In virtue of this status, <Experience = MICS> has a number of functions within the theory. In particular, it allows the information-theoretic formalism of the postulates to be applied to the phenomenology captured by the axioms; it imbues phenomenological concepts with empirical meaning, and assures the possibility of assessing the theory’s explanations and predictions in a scientific sense; it constructs IIT’s proper object of study, i.e., consciousness as maximally irreducible, specific, structured, intrinsic cause-effect power; and, as full-fledged transcendental, it deals with the invariant structures of all experience, and makes possible other a priori explanatory principles. Through Michael Friedman’s defense of constitutive a priori principles in spacetime physics, the present paper draws a first parallel between Kant’s transcendental philosophy and IIT’s epistemological foundations. However, my interpretation keeps closer to the Kantian root of apriority, and shows that IIT is a transcendental theory of its own, one that might surpass even Kant’s own expectations of his project.
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Archival date: 2021-01-27
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