Argumenta – Journal of Analytic Philosophy

This paper contributes to the debate about the nature of mental content from the perspective of the neuroscience of consciousness. In particular, I consider how one of the most influential neuroscientific theories of consciousness, the integrated information theory (IIT), understands the relation between consciousness and content. I conclude that it implies a form of phenomenal intentionality theory (PIT), the view that consciousness explanatorily grounds content, and for this reason proponents of PIT could find in IIT a neuroscientific ally. My main conclusion is that a higher degree of confidence in IIT should accompany a higher degree of confidence in PIT. In section 2, I show that major neuroscientific theories of consciousness implicitly commit to representationalism, the view that content explanatorily grounds consciousness. In section 3, I briefly present IIT, so to give the reader the necessary tools to understand the mechanics of my argument. In section 4, I argue that IIT implies a version of PIT, and that its theoretical apparatus could be re-interpreted to formulate a theory of content. In section 5, I argue that IIT is a form of PIT, which I will call ‘structuralist PIT’. In Section 6, I claim that IIT has the resources to push against the objection that non-conscious representations falsify PIT in general. I conclude that in virtue of this, proponents of PIT and IIT could work together to develop a more refined version of IIT as a theory of content, because if IIT turns out to be the correct theory of consciousness, this would help PIT too.

Consciousness and mental content are the two main protagonists of classical and contemporary debates in philosophy of mind.

An important question that has troubled philosophers for centuries is how to precisely understand the relation between consciousness and mental content, and in this regard we can broadly divide the conceptual space into three camps: I) separatism, namely the view that consciousness and content are totally different and independent phenomena; II) representationalism, namely the view that consciousness depends on content, and therefore an explanation of phenomenal properties necessarily depends on content properties; and III) phenomenal intentionality theory (PIT), namely the view that…


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