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IIT vs. Russellian Monism: A Metaphysical Showdown on the Content of Experience

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Integrated information theory (IIT) (Oizumi, Albantakis and Tononi, 2014; Tononi et al., 2016) attempts to account for both the quantitative and the phenomenal aspects of consciousness, and in taking consciousness as fundamental and widespread it bears similarities to panpsychist Russellian monism (RM). In this paper I compare IIT's and RM's (in its categoricalist version) response to the conceivability argument, and their metaphysical account of conscious experience. I start by claiming that RM neutralizes the conceivability argument, but that by virtue of its commitment to categoricalism it doesn't exclude fickle qualia scenarios (e.g. inverted or changing qualia). I argue that IIT's core notion of intrinsic cause-effect power makes it incompatible with categoricalist versions of RM (Chalmers, 2013; Alter and Nagasawa, 2015) and, to the contrary, is best understood as entailing pandispositionalism, the view for which all properties are powers. I show that, thus construed, IIT can cope with both the conceivability and with the fickle qualia arguments, offers a promising way to account for the content of experience, and hence is preferable to categoricalist RM.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Email: [email protected]

Publication date: January 1, 2019

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