David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Biology and Philosophy 20 (5):1011-1025 (2005)
This paper explores John Maynard Smith’s conceptual work on animal signals. Maynard Smith defined animal signals as traits that (1) change another organism’s behaviour while benefiting the sender, that (2) are evolved for this function, and that (3) have their effects through the evolved response of the receiver. Like many ethologists, Maynard Smith assumed that animal signals convey semantic information. Yet his definition of animal signals remains silent on the nature of semantic information and on the conditions determining its content. I therefore compare three ways to specify the semantic content of animal signals. The first suggestion models semantic content on Maynard Smith’s theory of genetic information. On the second proposal, semantic content is equated with a condition identified by conventional content ascriptions. The third suggestion is to explain semantic content in terms of consumer-based teleosemantics. I show how these accounts equate semantic content with distinct kinds of conditions and how they differ with respect to the kinds of traits that qualify as carrying semantic information.
|Keywords||Animal signals Communication Content Genetic information Representation Semantic information Teleosemantics|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Michael Owren, Drew Rendall & Michael Ryan (2010). Redefining Animal Signaling: Influence Versus Information in Communication. Biology and Philosophy 25 (5):755-780.
Jelle de Boer (2013). A Stag Hunt with Signalling and Mutual Beliefs. Biology and Philosophy 28 (4):559-576.
Similar books and articles
Rosa Cao (2012). A Teleosemantic Approach to Information in the Brain. Biology and Philosophy 27 (1):49-71.
Isidora Stojanovic (2009). Semantic Content. Manuscrito 32 (1):123-152.
Alirio Rosales (2005). John Maynard Smith and the Natural Philosophy of␣Adaptation. Biology and Philosophy 20 (5):1027-1040.
John Maynard Smith (1984). The Evolution of Animal Intelligence. In Christopher Hookway (ed.), Minds, Machines, and Evolution: Philosophical Studies. Cambridge University Press.
Ben Fraser (2012). Costly Signalling Theories: Beyond the Handicap Principle. Biology and Philosophy 27 (2):263-278.
C. Allen & M. Hauser (1992). Communication and Cognition: Is Information The Connection? Psa 1992:81-91.
Samir Okasha (2005). Maynard Smith on the Levels of Selection Question. Biology and Philosophy 20 (5):989-1010.
Paul E. Griffiths (2001). Genetic Information: A Metaphor in Search of a Theory. Philosophy of Science 68 (3):394-412.
Ulrich E. Stegmann (2009). A Consumer‐Based Teleosemantics for Animal Signals. Philosophy of Science 76 (5):864-875.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads16 ( #100,475 of 1,098,199 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #284,205 of 1,098,199 )
How can I increase my downloads?