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Sociobiology of Communicationan interdisciplinary perspective$
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Patrizia d'Ettorre and David P. Hughes

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199216840

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199216840.001.0001

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Grades of communication

Grades of communication

Chapter:
(p.275) CHAPTER 16 Grades of communication
Source:
Sociobiology of Communication
Author(s):

Ronald de Sousa (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199216840.003.0016

Philosophers interested in meaning have tended to look at the extremes of mere causality on one side and full fledged ‘non-natural meaning’ in human language on the other. But the former (though not simple, as attested by the long and largely vain attempt of philosophers to analyze it) is too simple to count as information, while the complexity of the latter places it far beyond many other forms of genuine communication found in the living world, from bacteria to mammals. Those other forms of communication involve ‘Shannon-information’ but aren't wholly captured by that notion. This chapter looks at some of the work that biologists have done to construct a coherent concept of information able to span a wide spectrum of communication from such phenomena as ‘quorum sensing’ among bacteria to sophisticated infra-linguistic signalling in primates.

Keywords:   non-natural meaning, function, teleology, game theory, Shannon-information, quorum sensing

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