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Propositional content in signalling systems

Birch, Jonathan (2014) Propositional content in signalling systems. [Preprint]

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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 (the ‘Philip Sidney’ game), 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.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Birch, Jonathanjgb37@cam.ac.uk
Keywords: content; game theory; information; misrepresentation; signalling
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Depositing User: Dr Jonathan Birch
Date Deposited: 04 Feb 2014 12:57
Last Modified: 04 Feb 2014 12:57
Item ID: 10338
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Date: 4 February 2014
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/10338

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