Philosophical Studies 171 (3):493-512 (2014)

Authors
Jonathan Birch
London School of Economics
Abstract
Skyrms, building on the work of Dretske, has recently developed a novel information-theoretic account of propositional content in simple signalling systems. Information-theoretic accounts of content traditionally struggle to accommodate the possibility of misrepresentation, and I show that Skyrms’s account is no exception. I proceed to argue, however, that a modified version of Skyrms’s account can overcome this problem. On my proposed account, the propositional content of a signal is determined not by the information that it actually carries, but by the information that it would carry at the nearest separating equilibrium of the underlying evolutionary dynamics. I show that this amended account yields reasonable ascriptions of false propositional content in a well-known formal model of the evolution of communication , and close with a discussion of the serious but perhaps not insuperable difficulties we face in applying the account to examples of signalling in the real world.
Keywords Content  Game theory  Information  Misrepresentation  Signalling
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DOI 10.1007/s11098-014-0280-5
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Citations of this work BETA

Content in Simple Signalling Systems.Nicholas Shea, Peter Godfrey-Smith & Rosa Cao - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (4):1009-1035.
Information as a Probabilistic Difference Maker.Andrea Scarantino - 2015 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 93 (3):419-443.
Teleosemantic Modeling of Cognitive Representations.Marc Artiga - 2016 - Biology and Philosophy 31 (4):483-505.
Consequences of a Functional Account of Information.Stephen Francis Mann - 2018 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology:1-19.
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.

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