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 (...) is important. This article shows that this concept can be made precise by defining a notion of functional content that captures the degree to which different states of the world are involved in stabilizing senders’ and receivers’ use of a signal at equilibrium. A series of case studies is used to contrast functional content with informational content, and to illustrate the explanatory role and limitations of this definition of functional content. _1_ Introduction _2_ Modelling Framework _3_ Two Kinds of Content _3.1_ Informational content _3.2_ Functional content _4_ Cases _4.1_ Case 1: Simplest case _4.2_ Case 2: Partial pooling _4.3_ Case 3: Bottleneck _4.4_ Case 4: Partial common interest _4.5_ Case 5: Deception _4.6_ Case 6: A further problem arising from divergent interests _5_ Discussion Appendix. (shrink)
The brain is often taken to be a paradigmatic example of a signaling system with semantic and representational properties, in which neurons are senders and receivers of information carried in action potentials. A closer look at this picture shows that it is not as appealing as it might initially seem in explaining the function of the brain. Working from several sender-receiver models within the teleosemantic framework, I will first argue that two requirements must be met for a system to support (...) genuine semantic information: 1. The receiver must be competent —that is, it must be able to extract rewards from its environment on the basis of the signals that it receives. 2. The receiver must have some flexibility of response relative to the signal received. In the second part of the paper, this initial framework will be applied to neural processes, pointing to the surprising conclusion that signaling at the single-neuron level is only weakly semantic at best. Contrary to received views, neurons will have little or no access to semantic information (though their patterns of activity may carry plenty of quantitative, correlational information) about the world outside the organism. Genuine representation of the world requires an organism - level receiver of semantic information, to which any particular set of neurons makes only a small contribution. (shrink)
In the literature, different axiomatizations of Public Announcement Logic (PAL) have been proposed. Most of these axiomatizations share a “core set” of the so-called “reduction axioms”. In this paper, by designing non-standard Kripke semantics for the language of PAL, we show that the proof system based on this core set of axioms does not completely axiomatize PAL without additional axioms and rules. In fact, many of the intuitive axioms and rules we took for granted could not be derived from the (...) core set. Moreover, we also propose and advocate an alternative yet meaningful axiomatization of PAL without the reduction axioms. The completeness is proved directly by a detour method using the canonical model where announcements are treated as merely labels for modalities as in normal modal logics. This new axiomatization and its completeness proof may sharpen our understanding of PAL and can be adapted to other dynamic epistemic logics. (shrink)
What are the functional units of the brain? If the function of the brain is to process information-carrying signals, then the functional units will be the senders and receivers of those signals. Neurons have been the default candidate, with action potentials as the signals. But there are alternatives: synapses fit the action potential picture more cleanly, and glial activities (e.g., in astrocytes) might also be characterized as signaling. Are synapses or nonneuronal cells better candidates to play the role of functional (...) units? Will informational signaling still be the best model for brain function if we move beyond the neuron doctrine? (shrink)
This study examines the personal values and value types of Chinese accounting practitioners and students, using the values survey questionnaire developed and validated by Schwartz (1992, Advances in Experimental Social Psychology 25, 1–65). A total of 454 accounting practitioners and 126 graduate accounting students participated in the study. The results show that Healthy, Family Security, Self-Respect, and Honoring of Parents and Elders are the top four values for both accounting practitioners and accounting students, although these values are not ranked in (...) the same order. Social Power, An Exciting Life, Devout, and Accepting My Portion in Life are the lowest rated four values for the accounting practitioners whereas Devout, An Exciting Life, Detachment, and Accepting My Portion in Life form the bottom four values for the accounting students. Both accounting practitioners and students ranked Security as the highest value type and Tradition as the lowest one, and the students rated Self-Direction as significantly more important than the practitioners. With respect to gender differences, both the male accounting practitioners and students rated the value type Achievement significantly higher than their female counterparts and there were several significant gender differences in personal values for both accounting practitioners and students. In addition, the perceived values are linked to social and cultural factors as well as to the influence of Western values. (shrink)
Social capital can serve as informal governance in weak investor-protection regimes. Using hand-collected data on entrepreneurs’ political connections and firm ownership, we construct several original measures of social capital and examine their effect on the performance of entrepreneurial firms in China after their initial public offerings. Political connections or a high percentage of external investors tend to enhance firm performance, but intragroup related-party transactions commonly lead to performance decline. These forms of social capital have a strong influence on the performance (...) of Chinese firms, whereas formal governance variables such as board size or board independence have little effect. Although social capital may serve as an informal governance mechanism and effectively substitute for formal governance mechanisms in an emerging market, this role of social capital raises several ethical concerns, notably the development of rent-seeking and crony capitalism. (shrink)
This essay sets out to search for an equivalent Chinese word to the English word ‘justice’ in classical Chinese language, through ancient Chinese philosophical texts, imperial codes and idioms. The study found that there does not seem to be a linguistic sign for ‘justice’ in classical Chinese, and further, yi resembles ‘justice’ in some ways and has been used sometimes to translate ‘justice’, but yi is a complex concept in traditional Chinese philosophy with multiple meanings and it is dissimilar to (...) ‘justice’ in their semantic and pragmatic meanings in Chinese and English legal culture. While ‘justice’ is a keyword and fundamental to Western law, yi is not a legal word or concept in classical Chinese in traditional China. Given its complexity, yi does not have a one-to-one equivalent in English. It sometimes carries a sense of ‘righteousness’ and occasionally ‘justice’, but yi and ‘justice’ are not equivalent. In view of these, it becomes understandable that the translations of yi in contemporary Chinese usage vary ranging from ‘friendship and justice’ to ‘greater good’, among others. The meaning of yi is still uncertain and context sensitive as it was two thousand years ago. (shrink)
Studies on the functions of the sign to date have been inadequate in that they leave unanswered a basic question of semiotics: What are the functions of a simple sign that consists essentially in the relation between two relata? The answer to this question is to be found in the phenomenon called “signize.” For intentional signs at least, all the mental entities can be signized, but only certain kinds of them have a strong signizing value. When these mental entities are (...) signized, they tend to be signized into certain kinds of images. The advantages of these images over those mental entities give rise to certain benefits that, in turn, result in the basic functions of simple intentional signs. These basic functions are the starting point of a systematic study of the hierarchy of functions of intentional sign. (shrink)
Ethics education has become essential in modern engineering. Ethics education in engineering has been increasingly implemented worldwide. It can improve ethical behaviors in technology and engineering design under the guidance of the philosophy of technology. Hence, this study aims to compare China-US engineering ethics education in Sino-Western philosophies of technology by using literature studies, online surveys, observational researches, textual analyses, and comparative methods. In my original theoretical framework and model of input and output for education, six primary variables emerge in (...) the pedagogy: disciplinary statuses, educational goals, instructional contents, didactic models, teaching methods, and edificatory effects. I focus on the similarities and differences of engineering ethics educations between China and the US in Chinese and Western philosophies of technology. In the field of engineering, the US tends toward applied ethics training, whereas China inclines toward practical moral education. The US is the leader, particularly in the amount of money invested and engineering results. China has quickened its pace, focusing specifically on engineering labor input and output. Engineering ethics is a multiplayer game effected at various levels among lower level technicians and engineers, engineering associations, and stockholders; middle ranking engineering ethics education, the ministry of education, the academy of engineering, and the philosophy of technology; and top national and international technological policies. I propose that professional engineering ethics education can play many important roles in reforming engineering social responsibility by international cooperation in societies that are becoming increasingly reliant on engineered devices and systems. Significantly, my proposals contribute to improving engineering ethics education and better-solving engineering ethics issues, thereby maximizing engineering sustainability. (shrink)
The Casimir force between two neutral metallic plates is often considered conclusive evidence for the reality of electromagnetic zero-point fluctuations in ‘empty space’. However, it is not well known that the Casimir force can be derived from many different points of view. The purpose of this note is to supply a conceptually oriented introduction to a representative set of these different interpretations. The different accounts suggest that the Casimir effect reveals nothing conclusive about the nature of the vacuum.
Recently implemented Chinese health insurance schemes have failed to achieve a Chinese health care system that is family-oriented, family-based, family-friendly, or even financially sustainable. With this diagnosis in hand, the authors argue that a financially and morally sustainable Chinese health care system should have as its core family health savings accounts supplemented by appropriate health insurance plans. This essay’s arguments are set in the context of Confucian moral commitments that still shape the background culture of contemporary China.