Monash University
monash_170793.pdf (933.97 kB)

The promise of panpsychism: understanding integrated information theory as a panpsychist theory of mind.

Download (933.97 kB)
posted on 2017-03-02, 04:20 authored by Dobson, Henry John Lambert
In contemporary philosophy of mind many philosophers regard physicalism to be the most promising theory of mind. In an attempt to defend physicalism against arguments such as the knowledge argument, the conceivability argument, and the explanatory gap argument, some philosophers have broadened the view. But in doing so they modify physicalism is such a way that it runs the risk of becoming more a form of panpsychism. If modifying physicalism has this effect then we have good reasons for taking panpsychism seriously. In my thesis I examine three contemporary versions of panpsychism, namely pan-experientialism, pan-phenomenalism and pan-protopsychism. All panpsychist theories must deal with what is called the ‘combination problem’. There are many different combination problems and I argue that both pan-experientialism and pan-phenomenalism fail to resolve their respective combination problems. And because pan-protopsychism is yet to be developed into a philosophical theory, it is yet to be seen whether it can do better than other forms of panpsychism. I turn my attention to a more recent theory of consciousness which is said to have panpsychist implications, namely Integrated Information Theory (IIT). I demonstrate that IIT can be thought of as a version of pan-protopsychism. I then identify two combination problems that confront IIT as a pan-protopsychist theory and present solutions to these problems. My purpose in writing this thesis is to present a philosophical investigation into how IIT is to be understood as a panpsychist theory of mind. I argue that it has the potential to resolve the relevant combination problems and I therefore believe that as a panpsychist theory IIT is the most promising theory of mind to date.


Principal supervisor

Monima Chadha

Additional supervisor 1

Jakob Hohwy

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre


Degree Type


Campus location



Faculty of Arts

Usage metrics

    Faculty of Arts Theses


    No categories selected


    Ref. manager