Deterministic Chaos and the Evolution of Meaning

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 63 (3):547-575 (2012)
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Abstract

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 out-of-equilibrium behaviour results in messages that do not perfectly reveal the sender's private information, but do transfer information as quantified by the Kullback–Leibler divergence. This finding shows that adaptive dynamics can enable information transmission even though messages at equilibria are meaningless. This suggests a new explanation for the evolution or spontaneous emergence of meaning: non-convergent adaptive dynamics

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