Not All Structure and Dynamics are Equal

Entropy 23 (9) (2021)
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The hard problem of consciousness has been a perennially vexing issue for the study of consciousness, particularly in giving a scientific and naturalized account of phenomenal experience. At the heart of the hard problem is an often-overlooked argument, which is at the core of the hard problem, and that is the structure and dynamics (S&D) argument. In this essay, I will argue that we have good reason to suspect that the S&D argument given by David Chalmers rests on a limited conception of S&D properties, what in this essay I’m calling extrinsic structure and dynamics. I argue that if we take recent insights from the complexity sciences and from recent developments in Integrated Information Theory (IIT) of Consciousness, that we get a more nuanced picture of S&D, specifically, a class of properties I’m calling intrinsic structure and dynamics. This I think opens the door to a broader class of properties with which we might naturally and scientifically explain phenomenal experience, as well as the relationship between syntactic, semantic, and intrinsic notions of information. I argue that Chalmers’ characterization of structure and dynamics in his S&D argument paints them with too broad a brush and fails to account for important nuances, especially when considering accounting for a system’s intrinsic properties. Ultimately, my hope is to vindicate a certain species of explanation from the S&D argument, and by extension dissolve the hard problem of consciousness at its core, by showing that not all structure and dynamics are equal.



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Garrett Mindt
Florida Atlantic University

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References found in this work

Knowledge and the flow of information.F. Dretske - 1989 - Trans/Form/Ação 12:133-139.
New Work For a Theory of Universals.David Lewis - 1983 - In D. H. Mellor & Alex Oliver (eds.), Properties. Oxford University Press.
The Problem with the 'Information' in Integrated Information Theory.Garrett Mindt - 2017 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 24 (7-8):130-154.
A Critical Analysis of Floridi’s Theory of Semantic Information.Pieter Adriaans - 2010 - Knowledge, Technology & Policy 23 (1-2):41-56.

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