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2.3a. Information-Based Accounts of Mental Content (Information-Based Accounts of Mental Content on PhilPapers)

See also:
Adams, Frederick R. (2003). The informational turn in philosophy. Minds and Machines 13 (4):471-501.   (Google | More links)
Aydede, Murat (1997). Pure informational semantics and the narrow/broad dichotomy. In Dunja Jutronic (ed.), The Maribor Papers in Naturalized Semantics. Maribor.   (Google)
Abstract: The influence of historical-causal theories of reference developed in the late sixties and early seventies by Donnellan, Kripke, Putnam and Devitt has been so strong that any semantic theory that has the consequence of assigning disjunctive representational content to the mental states of twins (e.g. [H2O or XYZ]) has been thereby taken to refute itself. Similarly, despite the strength of pre-theoretical intuitions that exact physical replicas like Davidson's Swampman have representational mental states, people have routinely denied that they have any intentional/representational states. I want to focus on a particular brand of causal theory that is not historical, the so-called pure informational or nomic covariance theories, and examine how they propose to handle twin cases and replicas like Swampman. In particular, I will take up Fodor
Barwise, Jon (1986). Information and circumstance. Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 27 (July):324-338.   (Cited by 17 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Barwise, Jon & Perry, John (1983). Situations and Attitudes. MIT Press.   (Cited by 1714 | Google | More links)
Barwise, Jon (1987). Unburdening the language of thought. Mind and Language 2:82-96.   (Cited by 9 | Google | More links)
Bogdan, Radu J. (1994). Grounds for Cognition. Erlbaum.   (Cited by 18 | Google | More links)
Bogdan, Radu J. (1988). Information and semantic cognition: An ontological account. Mind and Language 3:81-122.   (Cited by 61 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Abstract: Information is the fuel of cognition. At its most basic level, information is a matter of structures interacting under laws. The notion of information thus reflects the (relational) fact that a structure is created by the impact of another structure. The impacted structure is an encoding, in some concrete form, of the interaction with the impacting structure. Information is, essentially, the structural trace in some system of an interaction with another system; it is also, as a consequence, the structural fuel which drives the impacted system's subsequent processes and behavior. Information takes various forms because the world has many levels of compositional and functional complexity, under different constraints. The key constraints that matter in the understanding of information are natural patterns of organization, or types, and systematic correlations among types, or laws. These level- sensitive constraints, in the form of types and laws, shape the very form in which information is tokened in some structure, that is, the very form in which it is encoded. As a result, the information-producing interactions bring about different sorts of structures, with various sorts of causal effects and functions, whence so many ways in which information is coded and utilized
Bogdan, Radu J. (1987). Mind, content and information. Synthese 70 (February):205-227.   (Cited by 6 | Google | More links)
Abstract: What is it that one thinks or believes when one thinks or believes something? A mental formula? A sentence in some natural language? Its truth conditions? Or perhaps an abstract proposition? The current story of content is fairly ecumenical. It says that a number of aspects, some mental, other semantic, go into our understanding of content. Yet the current story is incomplete. It leaves out a very important aspect of content, one which I call incremental information. It is information in a specific format, information as a limited or local increment, structured by a number of underlying parameters. It is in the form of such increments that information drives cognition and behavior. This is why, perhaps of all aspects of content, it is incremental information which matters most when we want to understand cognitive attitudes and performances. This in turn must have an impact on our philosophical notions of content, propositional attitudes, inference, justification and knowledge
Bogdan, Radu J. (1988). Replies to Israel and Dretske's Bogdan on information. Mind and Language 3:145-151.   (Google)
Bridges, Jason (2006). Does informational semantics commit euthyphro's fallacy. Nos 40 (3):522�547.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract: In this paper, I argue that informational semantics, the most well-known and worked-out naturalistic account of intentional content, conflicts with a fundamental psychological principle about the conditions of belief-formation. Since this principle is an important premise in the argument for informational semantics, the upshot is that the view is self-contradictory??indeed, it turns out to be guilty of a sophisticated version of the fallacy famously committed by Euthyphro in the eponymous Platonic dialogue. Criticisms of naturalistic accounts of content typically proceed piecemeal by narrowly constructed counterexamples, but I argue that the current result is more robust. It affects a broad family of accounts, and provokes a wider doubt about the possibility of successful execution of the naturalistic project
Chemero, Anthony (2003). Information for perception and information processing. Minds and Machines 13 (4):577-588.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Clark, Andy (1987). Intentionality and information. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 65 (September):335-341.   (Google | More links)
Clark, Austen (1993). Mice, shrews, and misrepresentation. Journal of Philosophy 60 (6):290-310.   (Cited by 4 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Cohen, Jonathan (2006). An objective counterfactual theory of information. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 84 (3):333 – 352.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: We offer a novel theory of information that differs from traditional accounts in two respects: (i) it explains information in terms of counterfactuals rather than conditional probabilities, and (ii) it does not make essential reference to doxastic states of subjects, and consequently allows for the sort of objective, reductive explanations of various notions in epistemology and philosophy of mind that many have wanted from an account of information
Cohen, Jonathan (2002). Information and content. In Luciano Floridi (ed.), Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Information and Computing. Blackwell.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Abstract: Mental states differ from most other entities in the world in having semantic or intentional properties: they have meanings, they are about other things, they have satisfaction- or truth-conditions, they have representational content. Mental states are not the only entities that have intentional properties - so do linguistic expressions, some paintings, and so on; but many follow Grice, 1957 ] in supposing that we could understand the intentional properties of these other entities as derived from the intentional properties of mental states (viz., the mental states of their producers). Of course, accepting this supposition leaves us with a puzzle about how the non-derivative bearers of intentional properties (mental states) could have these properties. In particular, intentional properties seem to some to be especially difficult to reconcile with a robust commitment to ontological naturalism - the view that the natural properties, events, and individuals are the only properties, events, and individuals that exist. Fodor puts this intuition nicely in this oft-quoted passage:
I suppose that sooner or later the physicists will complete the catalogue they've been compiling of the
ultimate and irreducible properties of things. When they do, the likes of _spin_, _charm_, and _charge_ will perhaps
appear upon their list. But _aboutness_ surely won't; intentionality simply doesn't go that deep.... If aboutness is
real, it must be really something else ([ Fodor, 1987 ], 97).
Some philosophers have reacted to this clash by giving up one of the two views generating the tension. For example, Churchland, 1981 ] opts for intentional irrealism in order to save ontological naturalism, while
Cole, David J. (ms). Natural language and natural meaning.   (Google)
Abstract: In Book II of the _Essay_, at the beginning of his discussion of language in Chapter II ("Of the Signification of Words"), John Locke writes that we humans have a variety of thoughts which might profit others, but that unfortunately these thoughts lie invisible and hidden from others. And so we use language to communicate these thoughts. As a result, "words, in their primary or immediate signification,stand for nothing but _the ideas in the mind of him that uses them_
Coulter, Jeff (1995). The informed neuron: Issues in the use of information theory in the behavioral sciences. Minds and Machines 5 (4):583-96.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Doyle, Anthony (1985). Is knowledge information-produced belief? Southern Journal of Philosophy 23:33-46.   (Google)
Dretske, Fred (1988). Bogdan on information: Commentary. Mind and Language 3:141-144.   (Google)
Dretske, Fred (1991). Dretske's replies. In Dretske and His Critics. Cambridge: Blackwell.   (Cited by 11 | Google)
Dretske, Fred (1981). Knowledge and the Flow of Information. MIT Press.   (Cited by 1236 | Annotation | Google)
Abstract: This book presents an attempt to develop a theory of knowledge and a philosophy of mind using ideas derived from the mathematical theory of communication developed by Claude Shannon. Information is seen as an objective commodity defined by the dependency relations between distinct events. Knowledge is then analyzed as information caused belief. Perception is the delivery of information in analog form (experience) for conceptual utilization by cognitive mechanisms. The final chapters attempt to develop a theory of meaning (or belief content) by viewing meaning as a certain kind of information-carrying role
Dretske, Fred (1990). Putting information to work. In Philip P. Hanson (ed.), Information, Language and Cognition. University of British Columbia Press.   (Cited by 9 | Annotation | Google)
Dretske, Fred (2000). Perception, Knowledge and Belief: Selected Essays. Cambridge University Press.   (Cited by 44 | Google | More links)
Abstract: This collection of essays by eminent philosopher Fred Dretske brings together work on the theory of knowledge and philosophy of mind spanning thirty years. The two areas combine to lay the groundwork for a naturalistic philosophy of mind. The fifteen essays focus on perception, knowledge, and consciousness. Together, they show the interconnectedness of Dretske's work in epistemology and his more contemporary ideas on philosophy of mind, shedding light on the links which can be made between the two. The first section of the book argues the point that knowledge consists of beliefs with the right objective connection to facts; two essays discuss this conception of knowledge's implications for naturalism. The next section articulates a view of perception, attempting to distinguish conceptual states from phenomenal states. A naturalized philosophy of mind, and thus a naturalized epistemology, is articulated in the third section. This collection will be a valuable resource for a wide range of philosophers and their students, and will also be of interest to cognitive scientists, psychologists, and philosophers of biology
Dretske, Fred (1983). Precis of knowledge and the flow of information. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 6:55-90.   (Cited by 36 | Annotation | Google)
Floridi, Luciano (2005). Is semantic information meaningful data? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 70 (2):351-370.   (Cited by 51 | Google | More links)
Abstract: There is no consensus yet on the definition of semantic information. This paper contributes to the current debate by criticising and revising the Standard Definition of semantic Information (SDI) as meaningful data, in favour of the Dretske-Grice approach: meaningful and well-formed data constitute semantic information only if they also qualify as contingently truthful. After a brief introduction, SDI is criticised for providing necessary but insufficient conditions for the definition of semantic information. SDI is incorrect because truth-values do not supervene on semantic information, and misinformation (that is, false semantic information) is not a type of semantic information, but pseudo-information, that is not semantic information at all. This is shown by arguing that none of the reasons for interpreting misinformation as a type of semantic information is convincing, whilst there are compelling reasons to treat it as pseudo-information. As a consequence, SDI is revised to include a necessary truth-condition. The last section summarises the main results of the paper and indicates some interesting areas of application of the revised definition
Floridi, Luciano (2003). Two approaches to the philosophy of information. Minds and Machines 13 (4):459-469.   (Cited by 17 | Google | More links)
Fodor, Jerry A. (1987). A situated grandmother. Mind and Language 2:64-81.   (Google)
Fodor, Jerry A. (1986). Information and association. Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 27 (July):307-323.   (Cited by 14 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Foley, Richard (1987). Dretske's 'information-theoretic' account of knowledge. Synthese 70 (February):159-184.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Frank, M. C. (2004). Against informational atomism. The Dualist 10.   (Google)
Gates, Gary (1996). The price of information. Synthese 107 (3):325-347.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Gjelsvik, Olav (1991). Dretske on knowledge and content. Synthese 86 (March):425-41.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Grandy, Richard E. (1987). Information-based epistemology, ecological epistemology and epistemology naturalized. Synthese 70 (February):191-203.   (Cited by 3 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Grim, Patrick; St Denis, P. & Kokalis, T. (2004). Information and meaning: Use-based models in arrays of neural nets. Minds and Machines 14 (1):43-66.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Hardcastle, Valerie Gray (1994). Indicator semantics and Dretske's function. Philosophical Psychology 7 (3):367-82.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Abstract: In his Explaining Behavior, Fred Dretske uses a reliabilist theory of representation to try to vindicate the use of intentional explanation for behaviour against latter-day elitninativism. Although Dretske's indicator semantics turns on the notion of function, he himself never explicitly defines what function means. Dretske's reticence in discussing function may ultimately be an error, for, as I argue, his implicit understanding of what a function amounts to does not fit with data from op rant conditioning. Still, this need not be a deep flaw in Dretske and I offer one way in which we may patch up the notion of function via the changes known to occur with learning in the brain. Ultimately, I conclude that the only facts needed to explain behaviour are (1) the conditions in the world that are paired with neuronal circuit activation (as picked out by goals in some circumstances); and (2) what motor output that condition triggers
Heller, M. (1991). Indication and what might have been. Analysis 51 (October):187-91.   (Annotation | Google)
Hilbert, David R. (ms). Content, intention, and explanation.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Naturalistic theories of content and whether or not reason-giving explanations of human behavior are causal explanations have been central topics in recent philosophy of mind. Fred Dretske, in his book Explaining Behavior, attempts to construct a naturalistic theory of the contents of beliefs and desires that gives these mental states an important role in the causation of behavior. Even if Dretske is granted that the theory adequately accounts for individual behaviors the theory still faces problems in offering an adequate account of important features of extended sequences of behavior. Some sequences of behavior exhibit coherence in the sense that the elements of the sequence either contribute to the atttainment of a goal state or only make sense on the supposition that the goal state will be attained. Two ways of attaining coherence are distinguished. In chaining behavior coherence is guaranteed by the fit between the internal structure of the organism and the structure of the external environment. In other cases of coherence chaining is not available as an explanation. It is argued that Dretske
Hofmann, Frank (2001). The reference of de re representations. Grazer Philosophische Studien 62 (1):83-101.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Full understanding ofrepresentation requires both an accountofrepresentational content and of reference. Fred Dretske has proposed a powerful theory of representational content, the teleological theory of indicator functions. And he has indicated that he thinks an informational account of reference is basically correct. According to this account, reference is determined by a certain informational relation, the relation of carrying primary information about an object. However, a closer examination will show that the informational account cannot adequately deal with our intuitions about certain cases of illusion. In these cases, the informational account will lead to an unwelcome loss of the referential object. For reasons of causal underdetermination, a purely causal account of reference will not work either. So ultimately, the informational account has to be replaced by a mixed account that relies both on satisfaction (of representational content) and a causal relation. This means that the turn away from an informational theory of representational content to a teleological theory has to be accompanied by a corresponding turn away from the informational theory of reference to the mixed causal-satisfactional theory
Horowitz, Amir (1990). Dretske on perception. Ratio 3 (2):136-141.   (Google)
Israel, David J. (1988). Bogdan on information: Commentary. Mind and Language 3:123-140.   (Cited by 3 | Google)
Israel, David J. & Perry, John (1990). What is information? In Philip P. Hanson (ed.), Information, Language and Cognition. University of British Columbia Press.   (Cited by 43 | Google | More links)
Jackendoff, Ray S. (1985). Information is in the mind of the beholder. Linguistics and Philosophy 8 (February):23-33.   (Cited by 7 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Kamppinen, Matti (1988). Intentionality and information from an ontological point of view. Philosophia 18 (April):107-118.   (Google | More links)
Kistler, Max (2000). Source and Channel in the informational theory of mental content. Facta Philosophica 2:213-36.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Kulvicki, John (2004). Isomorphism in information-carrying systems. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 85 (4):380-395.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Loewer, Barry M. (1987). From information to intentionality. Synthese 70 (February):287-317.   (Cited by 19 | Google | More links)
Lombardi, Olimpia I. (2005). Dretske, Shannon's theory, and the interpretation of information. Synthese 144 (1):23-39.   (Google | More links)
Lombardi, Olimpia I. (2004). What is information? Foundations of Science 9 (2):105-134.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract: The main aim of this work is to contribute tothe elucidation of the concept of informationby comparing three different views about thismatter: the view of Fred Dretske's semantictheory of information, the perspective adoptedby Peter Kosso in his interaction-informationaccount of scientific observation, and thesyntactic approach of Thomas Cover and JoyThomas. We will see that these views involvevery different concepts of information, eachone useful in its own field of application. This comparison will allow us to argue in favorof a terminological `cleansing': it is necessaryto make a terminological distinction among thedifferent concepts of information, in order toavoid conceptual confusions when the word`information' is used to elucidate relatedconcepts as knowledge, observation orentropy
Maloney, J. Christopher (1983). Dretske on knowledge and information. Analysis 43 (January):25-28.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
McLaughlin, Brian P. (1991). Belief individuation and Dretske on naturalizing content. In Dretske and His Critics. Cambridge: Blackwell.   (Cited by 4 | Google)
Millikan, Ruth G. (2001). What has Natural Information to Do with Intentional Representation? In D. Walsh (ed.), Evolution, Naturalism and Mind. Cambridge University Press.   (Cited by 5 | Google | More links)
Abstract: "According to informational semantics, if it's necessary that a creature can't distinguish Xs from Ys, it follows that the creature can't have a concept that applies to Xs but not Ys." (Jerry Fodor, The Elm and the Expert, p.32)
Morris, William E. (1990). Knowledge and the regularity theory of information. Synthese 82 (3):375-398.   (Google | More links)
Morris, William E. (1990). The regularity theory of information. Synthese 82:375-398.   (Annotation | Google)
O'Hair, S. G. (1969). A definition of informational content. Journal of Philosophy 66 (March):132-133.   (Google | More links)
Pineda, David (1998). Information and content. Philosophical Issues 9:381-387.   (Google | More links)
Putnam, Hilary (1986). Information and the mental. In Ernest LePore (ed.), Truth and Interpretation: Perspectives on the Philosophy of Donald Davidson. Cambridge: Blackwell.   (Cited by 5 | Google)
Robinson, William S. (1983). Dretske's etiological view. Southwest Philosophical Studies 9:23-29.   (Google)
Savitt, Steven F. (1987). Absolute informational content. Synthese 70 (February):185-90.   (Cited by 2 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Sayre, Kenneth M. (1987). Cognitive science and the problem of semantic content. Synthese 70 (February):247-69.   (Cited by 3 | Annotation | Google | More links)
Sayre, Kenneth M. (1986). Intentionality and information processing: An alternative model for cognitive science. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 9:121-38.   (Cited by 15 | Google)
Skokowski, Paul G. (1999). Information, belief, and causal role. In L.S. Moss, J Ginzburg & M. de Rijke (eds.), Logic, Language, and Computation Vol 2. CSLI Press.   (Google | More links)
Stich, Stephen P. (1990). Building belief: Some queries about representation, indication, and function. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 50 (4):801-806.   (Cited by 8 | Google | More links)
Sturdee, D. (1997). The semantic shuffle: Shifting emphasis in Dretske's account of representational content. Erkenntnis 47 (1):89-104.   (Google | More links)
Summerfield, Donna M. & Manfredi, Pat A. (1998). Indeterminacy in recent theories of content. Minds and Machines 8 (2):181-202.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Taylor, Kenneth A. (1987). Belief, information and semantic content: A naturalist's lament. Synthese 71 (April):97-124.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Usher, Matthew (2001). A statistical referential theory of content: Using information theory to account for misrepresentation. Mind and Language 16 (3):331-334.   (Cited by 12 | Google | More links)
Villanueva, Enrique (ed.) (1990). Information, Semantics and Epistemology. Cambridge: Blackwell.   (Cited by 15 | Google)
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Zalabardo, Jos (1995). A problem for information-theoretic semantics. Synthese 105 (1):1-29.   (Cited by 5 | Google | More links)