The Content of Animal Signals

Authored by: Ulrich Stegmann

The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Animal Minds

Print publication date:  July  2017
Online publication date:  July  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138822887
eBook ISBN: 9781315742250
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315742250.ch30

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Abstract

Animal signals are usually defined as structures or behaviors that evolved in order to carry information about the sender or the environment. They are believed to represent or indicate things; they have some kind of “content”. The nature of that content or information is not well understood, however. Most researchers of animal communication gravitate towards quantitative information concepts when pressed, but some regard information as awkward baggage that had better be jettisoned. In philosophy, animal signals have mostly figured as a foil for discussing human language or as occasional examples in naturalistic accounts of information and representation. They became the subject of focused inquiries over the last decade or so.

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