A consumer‐based teleosemantics for animal signals

Philosophy of Science 76 (5):864-875 (2009)
Ethological theory standardly attributes representational content to animal signals. In this article I first assess whether Ruth Millikan’s teleosemantic theory accounts for the content of animal signals. I conclude that it does not, because many signals do not exhibit the required sort of cooperation between signal‐producing and signal‐consuming devices. It is then argued that Kim Sterelny’s proposal, while not requiring cooperation, sometimes yields the wrong content. Finally, I outline an alternative view, according to which consumers alone are responsible for conferring representational status and determining content. I suggest that consumer‐based teleosemantics reconstruct the content of both cooperative and noncooperative signals and explain how a given trait can mean different things to different consumers. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, King’s College London, Strand, London WC2R 2LS, U.K.; e‐mail: ulrich.stegmann@kcl.ac.uk.
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DOI 10.1086/605820
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References found in this work BETA
Peter Godfrey-Smith (1989). Misinformation. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 19 (4):533-50.

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Marc Artiga (2015). Rescuing Tracking Theories of Morality. Philosophical Studies 172 (12):3357-3374.
Marc Artiga (2014). Signaling Without Cooperation. Biology and Philosophy 29 (3):357-378.
Marc Artiga (2014). Teleosemantics, Infotel-Semantics and Circularity. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 22 (4):583-603.

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