Natural information, factivity and nomicity

Biology and Philosophy 36 (2):1-21 (2021)
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Biological and cognitive sciences rely heavily on the idea of information transmitted between natural events or processes. This paper critically assesses some current philosophical views of natural information and defends a view of natural information as Nomic and Factive. Dretske offered a Factive view of information, and recent work on the topic has tended to reject this aspect of his view in favor of a non-Factive, probabilistic approach. This paper argues that the reasoning behind this move to non-Factivity is flawed and mixes up different problems with Dretske’s original view. I show that one of these problems—strictness—has to do with Nomicity rather than Factivity. The other problem—reference class ambiguity—is not solvable just in terms of a theory of natural information. On the Dretske-inspired view I defend, natural information is Factive and Nomic but is insufficient to determine the cognitive or biological content of a natural process. In sum I present an examination what natural information is and what role it can play in our understanding of living and thinking things.



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Convention: A Philosophical Study.David Kellogg Lewis - 1969 - Cambridge, MA, USA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Laws and Symmetry.Bas C. Van Fraassen - 1989 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
What is a Law of Nature?D. Armstrong - 1983 - Cambridge University Press.

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