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  1. Greatest Surprise Reduction Semantics: An Information Theoretic Solution to Misrepresentation and Disjunction.D. E. Weissglass - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 177 (8):2185-2205.
    Causal theories of content, a popular family of approaches to defining the content of mental states, commonly run afoul of two related and serious problems that prevent them from providing an adequate theory of mental content—the misrepresentation problem and the disjunction problem. In this paper, I present a causal theory of content, built on information theoretic tools, that solves these problems and provides a viable model of mental content. This is the greatest surprise reduction theory of content, which identifies the (...)
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  • The Meaning of Biological Signals.Marc Artiga, Jonathan Birch & Manolo Martínez - 2020 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 84:101348.
    We introduce the virtual special issue on content in signalling systems. The issue explores the uses and limits of ideas from evolutionary game theory and information theory for explaining the content of biological signals. We explain the basic idea of the Lewis-Skyrms sender-receiver framework, and we highlight three key themes of the issue: (i) the challenge of accounting for deception, misinformation and false content, (ii) the relevance of partial or total common interest to the evolution of meaningful signals, and (iii) (...)
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  • Representation in Cognitive Science.Nicholas Shea - 2018 - Oxford University Press.
    How can we think about things in the outside world? There is still no widely accepted theory of how mental representations get their meaning. In light of pioneering research, Nicholas Shea develops a naturalistic account of the nature of mental representation with a firm focus on the subpersonal representations that pervade the cognitive sciences.
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  • Two Pictures of Communication: From Content Identity to Coordination.Andrea Onofri - 2022 - Synthese 200 (4):1-20.
    In this paper, I discuss two influential pictures of communication and the relation between them. One picture holds that successful communication requires identity of content: The speaker has a belief that she expresses with her utterance, and the hearer acquires a belief with the same content by understanding the utterance. The second picture was proposed by Lewis in his classic work Convention and then refined in “Languages and Language.” It sees communication as coordination among speakers—a technical notion that Lewis draws (...)
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  • On the Function of Self‐Deception.Vladimir Krstić - 2021 - European Journal of Philosophy 29 (4):846-863.
    Self-deception makes best sense as a self-defensive mechanism by which the self protects itself from painful reality. Hence, we typically imagine self-deceivers as people who cause themselves to believe as true what they want to be true. Some self-deceivers, however, end up believing what they do not want to be true. Their behaviour can be explained on the hypothesis that the function of this behaviour is protecting the agent's perceived focal benefit at the cost of inflicting short-term harm, which is (...)
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  • Communication and Representation Understood as Sender–Receiver Coordination.Ronald J. Planer & Peter Godfrey-Smith - 2021 - Mind and Language 36 (5):750-770.
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  • Altruistic Deception.Jonathan Birch - 2019 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 74:27-33.
    Altruistic deception (or the telling of “white lies”) is common in humans. Does it also exist in non-human animals? On some definitions of deception, altruistic deception is impossible by definition, whereas others make it too easy by counting useful-but-ambiguous information as deceptive. I argue for a definition that makes altruistic deception possible in principle without trivializing it. On my proposal, deception requires the strategic exploitation of a receiver by a sender, where “exploitation” implies that the sender elicits a behaviour in (...)
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  • In the Beginning There Was Information?Peter Godfrey-Smith - 2020 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 80:101239.
  • Animal Deception and the Content of Signals.Don Fallis & Peter J. Lewis - 2021 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 87:114-124.
    In cases of animal mimicry, the receiver of the signal learns the truth that he is either dealing with the real thing or with a mimic. Thus, despite being a prototypical example of animal deception, mimicry does not seem to qualify as deception on the traditional definition, since the receiver is not actually misled. We offer a new account of propositional content in sender-receiver games that explains how the receiver is misled by mimicry. We show that previous accounts of deception, (...)
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  • Propositional Content in Signals.Brian Skyrms & Jeffrey A. Barrett - 2019 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 74:34-39.
    Propositional content arises from the practice of signaling with information transfer when a signaling process settles into some sort of a pattern, and eventually what we call meaning or propositional content crystallizes out. We give an evolutionary account of this process.
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  • Consequences of a Functional Account of Information.Stephen Francis Mann - 2018 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 11 (3):1-19.
    This paper aims to establish several interconnected points. First, a particular interpretation of the mathematical definition of information, known as the causal interpretation, is supported largely by misunderstandings of the engineering context from which it was taken. A better interpretation, which makes the definition and quantification of information relative to the function of its user, is outlined. The first half of the paper is given over to introducing communication theory and its competing interpretations. The second half explores three consequences of (...)
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  • Representation in Cognitive Science: Replies.Nicholas Shea - 2020 - Mind and Language 35 (3):402-412.
    In their constructive reviews, Frances Egan, Randy Gallistel and Steven Gross have raised some important problems for the account of content advanced by Nicholas Shea in Representation in Cognitive Science. Here the author addresses their main challenges. Egan argues that the account includes an unrecognised pragmatic element; and that it makes contents explanatorily otiose. Gallistel raises questions about homomorphism and correlational information. Gross puts the account to work to resolve a dispute about probabilistic contents in perception, but argues that a (...)
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  • Meaning and Emotion.Constant Bonard - 2021 - Dissertation, Université de Genève
    This dissertation may be divided into two parts. The first part is about the Extended Gricean Model of information transmission. This model, introduced here, is meant to better explain how humans communicate and understand each other. It has been developed to apply to cases that were left unexplained by the two main models of communication found in contemporary philosophy and linguistics, i.e. the Gricean model and the code model. In particular, I show that these latter two models cannot apply to (...)
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  • The Philosophical Interpretation of Language Game Theory.Nick Zangwill - 2021 - Journal of Language Evolution 6 (2):136–153.
    I give an informal presentation of the evolutionary game theoretic approach to the conventions that constitute linguistic meaning. The aim is to give a philosophical interpretation of the project, which accounts for the role of game theoretic mathematics in explaining linguistic phenomena. I articulate the main virtue of this sort of account, which is its psychological economy, and I point to the casual mechanisms that are the ground of the application of evolutionary game theory to linguistic phenomena. Lastly, I consider (...)
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  • Is Honesty Rational?Giorgio Sbardolini - forthcoming - Philosophical Quarterly.
    According to the Maxim of Quality, rational agents tend to speak honestly. Due to the influence of Grice, a connection between linguistic rationality and honesty is often taken for granted. However, the connection is not obvious: structural rationality in language use does not require honesty, any more than it requires dishonesty. In particular, Quality does not follow from the Cooperative Principle and structural rationality. But then what is honest rational speech? I propose to move the discussion in the context of (...)
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  • Compositionality and Context in Perception (Draft).Kevin J. Lande - manuscript
    A compositional theory of perceptual representations would explain how the accuracy conditions of a given type of perceptual state depend on the contents of constituent perceptual representations and the way those constituents are structurally related. Such a theory would offer a basic framework for understanding the nature, grounds, and epistemic significance of perception. But an adequate semantics of perceptual representations must accommodate the holistic nature of perception. In particular, perception is replete with context effects, in which the way one perceptually (...)
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  • Communication Before Communicative Intention.Josh Armstrong - forthcoming - Noûs.
    This paper explores the significance of intelligent social behavior among non-human animals for philosophical theories of communication. Using the alarm call system of vervet monkeys as a case study, I argue that interpersonal communication (or what I call “minded communication”) can and does take place in the absence of the production and recognition of communicative intentions. More generally, I argue that evolutionary theory provides good reasons for maintaining that minded communication is both temporally and explanatorily prior to the use of (...)
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  • Toward a Formal Analysis of Deceptive Signaling.Don Fallis & Peter J. Lewis - 2019 - Synthese (6):2279-2303.
    Deception has long been an important topic in philosophy. However, the traditional analysis of the concept, which requires that a deceiver intentionally cause her victim to have a false belief, rules out the possibility of much deception in the animal kingdom. Cognitively unsophisticated species, such as fireflies and butterflies, have simply evolved to mislead potential predators and/or prey. To capture such cases of “functional deception,” several researchers Machiavellian intelligence II, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 112–143, 1997; Searcy and Nowicki, The (...)
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  • Models, Information and Meaning.Marc Artiga - 2020 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 82:101284.
    There has recently been an explosion of formal models of signalling, which have been developed to learn about different aspects of meaning. This paper discusses whether that success can also be used to provide an original naturalistic theory of meaning in terms of information or some related notion. In particular, it argues that, although these models can teach us a lot about different aspects of content, at the moment they fail to support the idea that meaning just is some kind (...)
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  • The Senses as Signalling Systems.Todd Ganson - 2018 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 96 (3):519-531.
    A central goal of philosophy of perception is to uncover the nature of sensory capacities. Ideally, we would like an account that specifies what conditions need to be met in order for an organism to count as having the capacity to sense or perceive its environment. And on the assumption that sensory states are the kinds of things that can be accurate or inaccurate, a further goal of philosophy of perception is to identify the accuracy conditions for sensory states. In (...)
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  • Representational Similarity Analysis in Neuroimaging: Proxy Vehicles and Provisional Representations.Adina L. Roskies - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):5917-5935.
    Functional neuroimaging is sometimes criticized as showing only where in the brain things happen, not how they happen, and thus being unable to inform us about questions of mental and neural representation. Novel analytical methods increasingly make clear that imaging can give us access to constructs of interest to psychology. In this paper I argue that neuroimaging can give us an important, if limited, window into the large-scale structure of neural representation. I describe Representational Similarity Analysis, increasingly used in neuroimaging (...)
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  • Shannon + Friston = Content: Intentionality in Predictive Signaling Systems.Carrie Figdor - 2021 - Synthese 199 (1-2):2793-2816.
    What is the content of a mental state? This question poses the problem of intentionality: to explain how mental states can be about other things, where being about them is understood as representing them. A framework that integrates predictive coding and signaling systems theories of cognitive processing offers a new perspective on intentionality. On this view, at least some mental states are evaluations, which differ in function, operation, and normativity from representations. A complete naturalistic theory of intentionality must account for (...)
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  • A Role for Representations in Inflexible Behavior.Todd Ganson - 2020 - Biology and Philosophy 35 (4):1-18.
    Representationalists have routinely expressed skepticism about the idea that inflexible responses to stimuli are to be explained in representational terms. Representations are supposed to be more than just causal mediators in the chain of events stretching from stimulus to response, and it is difficult to see how the sensory states driving reflexes are doing more than playing the role of causal intermediaries. One popular strategy for distinguishing representations from mere causal mediators is to require that representations are decoupled from specific (...)
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  • No-Report Paradigmatic Ascription of the Minimally Conscious State: Neural Signals as a Communicative Means for Operational Diagnostic Criteria.Hyungrae Noh - 2018 - Minds and Machines 28 (1):173-189.
    The minimally conscious sta te (MCS) is usually ascribed when a patientwith brain damage exhibits obser vable volitional behaviors that predict recovery ofcognitive funct ions. Nevertheless, a patient with brain damage who lacks motorcapacit y might nonetheless be in MCS. For this reason, some clinicians use neuralsignals as a communicative means for MCS ascription. For instance, a vegetativestate patient is diagnosed with MCS if activity in the motor area is observed whenthe instruction to imagine wiggling toes is given. The validi (...)
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  • Representation in Cognitive Science, by Nicholas Shea.Todd Ganson - forthcoming - Mind.
    Representation in Cognitive Science, by SheaNicholas. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018. Pp. 292.
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  • Models, Information and Meaning.Dr Marc Artiga - 2020 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 82:101284.
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  • Thinking About Semantic Information.Marcin Miłkowski - 2020 - Avant: Trends in Interdisciplinary Studies 11 (2):1-10.
    In his recent book, Daniel Dennett defends a novel account of semantic information in terms of design worth getting (Dennett, 2017). While this is an interesting proposal in itself, my purpose in this commentary is to challenge several of Dennett’s claims. First, he argues that semantic information can be transferred without encoding and storing it. Second, this lack of encoding is what makes semantic information unmeasurable. However, the argument for both these claims, presented by Dennett as an intuition pump, is (...)
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