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  1. Vagueness and Imprecise Imitation in Signalling Games.Michael Franke & José Pedro Correia - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (4):1037-1067.
    Signalling games are popular models for studying the evolution of meaning, but typical approaches do not incorporate vagueness as a feature of successful signalling. Complementing recent like-minded models, we describe an aggregate population-level dynamic that describes a process of imitation of successful behaviour under imprecise perception and realization of similar stimuli. Applying this new dynamic to a generalization of Lewis’s signalling games, we show that stochastic imprecision leads to vague, yet by-and-large efficient signal use, and, moreover, that it unifies evolutionary (...)
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  • David Lewis in the Lab: Experimental Results on the Emergence of Meaning.Justin Bruner, Cailin O’Connor, Hannah Rubin & Simon M. Huttegger - 2018 - Synthese 195 (2):603-621.
    In this paper we use an experimental approach to investigate how linguistic conventions can emerge in a society without explicit agreement. As a starting point we consider the signaling game introduced by Lewis. We find that in experimental settings, small groups can quickly develop conventions of signal meaning in these games. We also investigate versions of the game where the theoretical literature indicates that meaning will be less likely to arise—when there are more than two states for actors to transfer (...)
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  • Content in Simple Signalling Systems.Nicholas Shea, Peter Godfrey-Smith & Rosa Cao - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (4):1009-1035.
    Our understanding of communication and its evolution has advanced significantly through the study of simple models involving interacting senders and receivers of signals. Many theorists have thought that the resources of mathematical information theory are all that are needed to capture the meaning or content that is being communicated in these systems. However, the way theorists routinely talk about the models implicitly draws on a conception of content that is richer than bare informational content, especially in contexts where false content (...)
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  • Experimental Economics for Philosophers.Hannah Rubin, Cailin O'Connor & Justin Bruner - unknown
    Recently, game theory and evolutionary game theory - mathematical frameworks from economics and biology designed to model and explain interactive behavior - have proved fruitful tools for philosophers in areas such as ethics, philosophy of language, social epistemology, and political philosophy. This methodological osmosis is part of a trend where philosophers have blurred disciplinary lines to import the best epistemic tools available. In this vein, experimental philosophers have drawn on practices from the social sciences, and especially from psychology, to expand (...)
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  • Plasticity and Language: An Example of the Baldwin Effect?Kevin J. S. Zollman & Rory Smead - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 147 (1):7-21.
    In recent years, many scholars have suggested that the Baldwin effect may play an important role in the evolution of language. However, the Baldwin effect is a multifaceted and controversial process and the assessment of its connection with language is difficult without a formal model. This paper provides a first step in this direction. We examine a game-theoretic model of the interaction between plasticity and evolution in the context of a simple language game. Additionally, we describe three distinct aspects of (...)
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  • The Evolution of Compositionality in Signaling Games.Michael Franke - 2016 - Journal of Logic, Language and Information 25 (3-4):355-377.
    Compositionality is a key design feature of human language: the meaning of complex expressions is, for the most part, systematically constructed from the meanings of its parts and their manner of composition. This paper demonstrates that rudimentary forms of compositional communicative behavior can emerge from a variant of reinforcement learning applied to signaling games. This helps explain how compositionality could have emerged gradually: if unsophisticated agents can evolve prevalent dispositions to communicate compositional-like, there is a direct evolutionary benefit for adaptations (...)
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  • Evolving Perceptual Categories.Cailin O’Connor - 2014 - Philosophy of Science 81 (5):110-121.
    This article uses sim-max games to model perceptual categorization with the goal of answering the following question: To what degree should we expect the perceptual categories of biological actors to track properties of the world around them? I argue that an analysis of these games suggests that the relationship between real-world structure and evolved perceptual categories is mediated by successful action in the sense that organisms evolve to categorize together states of nature for which similar actions lead to similar results. (...)
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  • Finding Alternatives to Handicap Theory.Kevin J. S. Zollman - 2013 - Biological Theory 8 (2):127-132.
    The Handicap Principle represents a central theory in the biological understanding of signaling. This paper presents a number of alternative theories to the Handicap Principle and argues that some of these theories may provide a better explanation for the evolution and stability of honest communication.
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  • The Heuristic Defense of Scientific Models: An Incentive-Based Assessment.Armin W. Schulz - 2015 - Perspectives on Science 23 (4):424-442.
    It is undeniable that much scientific work is model-based. Despite this, the justification for this reliance on models is still controversial. A particular difficulty here is the fact that many scientific models are based on assumptions that do not describe the exact details of many or even any empirical situations very well. This raises the question of why it is that, despite their frequent lack of descriptive accuracy, employing models is scientifically useful.One..
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  • Senders, Receivers, and Symbolic Artifacts.Peter Godfrey-Smith - 2017 - Biological Theory 12 (4):275-286.
    A “sender–receiver” framework based on models developed in several fields can provide a general treatment of communicative and symbolic phenomena, replacing traditional semiotic theories that have failed to live up to the hopes of their advocates. Sender–receiver models have mostly been applied to linguistic behavior, gestures, and other ephemeral interactions between individuals. I look at the application of this framework to enduring artifacts, including pictures, using indigenous rock art in Australia as a case study.
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  • The Evolution of Vagueness.Cailin O'Connor - 2013 - Erkenntnis (S4):1-21.
    Vague predicates, those that exhibit borderline cases, pose a persistent problem for philosophers and logicians. Although they are ubiquitous in natural language, when used in a logical context, vague predicates lead to contradiction. This paper will address a question that is intimately related to this problem. Given their inherent imprecision, why do vague predicates arise in the first place? I discuss a variation of the signaling game where the state space is treated as contiguous, i.e., endowed with a metric that (...)
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  • On Salience and Signaling in Sender–Receiver Games: Partial Pooling, Learning, and Focal Points.Travis LaCroix - forthcoming - Synthese.
    I introduce an extension of the Lewis-Skyrms signaling game, analysed from a dynamical perspective via simple reinforcement learning. In Lewis’ (Convention, Blackwell, Oxford, 1969) conception of a signaling game, salience is offered as an explanation for how individuals may come to agree upon a linguistic convention. Skyrms (Signals: evolution, learning & information, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2010a) offers a dynamic explanation of how signaling conventions might arise presupposing no salience whatsoever. The extension of the atomic signaling game examined here—which I (...)
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  • Methodology in Biological Game Theory.S. M. Huttegger & K. J. S. Zollman - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (3):637-658.
    Game theory has a prominent role in evolutionary biology, in particular in the ecological study of various phenomena ranging from conflict behaviour to altruism to signalling and beyond. The two central methodological tools in biological game theory are the concepts of Nash equilibrium and evolutionarily stable strategy. While both were inspired by a dynamic conception of evolution, these concepts are essentially static—they only show that a population is uninvadable, but not that a population is likely to evolve. In this article, (...)
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  • Deterministic Chaos and the Evolution of Meaning.Elliott O. Wagner - 2012 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 63 (3):547-575.
    Common wisdom holds that communication is impossible when messages are costless and communicators have totally opposed interests. This article demonstrates that such wisdom is false. Non-convergent dynamics can sustain partial information transfer even in a zero-sum signalling game. In particular, I investigate a signalling game in which messages are free, the state-act payoffs resemble rock–paper–scissors, and senders and receivers adjust their strategies according to the replicator dynamic. This system exhibits Hamiltonian chaos and trajectories do not converge to equilibria. This persistent (...)
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  • Pain Signals Are Predominantly Imperative.Manolo Martínez & Colin Klein - 2016 - Biology and Philosophy 31 (2):283-298.
    Recent work on signaling has mostly focused on communication between organisms. The Lewis–Skyrms framework should be equally applicable to intra-organismic signaling. We present a Lewis–Skyrms signaling-game model of painful signaling, and use it to argue that the content of pain is predominantly imperative. We address several objections to the account, concluding that our model gives a productive framework within which to consider internal signaling.
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  • Ambiguous Signals, Partial Beliefs, and Propositional Content.Rafael Ventura - forthcoming - Synthese:1-18.
    As the content of propositional attitudes, propositions are usually taken to help explain the behavior of rational agents. However, a closer look at signaling games suggests otherwise: rational agents often acquire partial beliefs, and many of their signals are ambiguous. Signaling games also suggest that it is rational for agents to mix their behavior in response to partial beliefs and ambiguous signals. But as I show in this paper, propositions cannot help explain the mixing behavior of rational agents: to explain (...)
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  • Game Theoretic Pragmatics.Michael Franke - 2013 - Philosophy Compass 8 (3):269-284.
    Game theoretic pragmatics is a small but growing part of formal pragmatics, the linguistic subfield studying language use. The general logic of a game theoretic explanation of a pragmatic phenomenon is this: the conversational context is modelled as a game between speaker and hearer; an adequate solution concept then selects the to‐be‐explained behavior in the game model. For such an explanation to be convincing, both components, game model and solution concept, should be formulated and scrutinized as explicitly as possible. The (...)
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