Robin said: To me this issue is very simple: the meaning of information to a receiving system is the effect on the system of the reception of the information.
This makes meaning relative, but I believe that's both as it should be, and quite easily understood: I've very recently been studying Millikan's biosemantics, in which "proper function" is determined genetically: it is the function of the heart to pump blood because that's what its predecessors were selected to do. The concept of function is required in order to allow for a representation or meaning to be false, or misleading: in that case, the function fails to do what it is "supposed to". It occurred to me, that is good as far as it goes, but too restrictive: functionality should be seen as relative to a given context. In the context of biology, Millikan's "proper function" is appropriate, but in most contexts that people are concerned with, the context is human aims and aspirations. Within that category there are different levels, notably that of the individual and of the society, but that's just another aspect of context. In any case, the context determines the meaning of information. How that does that relate to my first statement? The context will determine, for instance, whether the system we look at to determine the effect of the information is an individual or a population. But of course there are many other complexities to consider! S: I agree that meaning is generated within an interpreting system (and so is not 'objective'), as well as through contextuality. That is, if a system acts as a system of interpretance, then it is contextualizing an event impinging upon it or an opportunity appearing before it. Steven said: I much prefer a more general definition(of meaning) derived from the Peircian pragmaticist definition (and internally consistent in my model). Meaning is a term concerning signs, it is the difference that a sign makes in the world. A meaning is a reference to the information that a sign provides. It is a meta concept allowing us to reason about information. S: The difference between a mere 'event' (e.g., two items colliding) and a meaningful interaction is that in the latter context affects the result. That context is provided by a system of interpretance if it is party to the event/interaction. Jacob said: Dear All: I have remained mostly a lurker on this fascinating listserv for some time. The diversity of the different participants' backgrounds makes for interesting discussions, though I am not sure I always understand everything. That said, having spent the last year or more familiarizing myself with situation semantics, situation theory, and infomorphic channel theory (i.e. the work of Jon Barwise, Jerry Seligman, David Israel, John Perry, Keith Devlin, and many others) for my thesis work, I am struck by the general, if not universal, absence of engagement with this work in this list's discussions. Situation semantics is an explicitly information oriented semantics (rather than say a truth oriented semantics), based on partial worlds called situations. Propositional sentence meaning is a relation between some discourse situation and a described situation. A propositional sentence asserts that a described situation support various states of affairs (items of information). Jerry Seligman gives a reasonable first pass formalization of the notion of a situation in his paper /Physical Situations and Information Flow./ Situation theory was further developed in Barwise and Seligman's channel theory. Channel theory identifies information flow as arising from regularities between the components of distributed systems. The decomposition of a system determines what information flows in the system; hence the information available to a cognitive agent depends on the particular decomposition used. Allwein, Moskowitz, and Chang have attempted to integrate Shannon's information theory into Barwise and Seligman's channel theory (see refs below). More recent work of interest is contained in the recent collection /Philosophy of Information/ edited by Pieter Adriaans and Johan Van Benthem. This work is relatively well known and seems highly relevant to our discussions on this list, so I am puzzled. Am I missing something? S: How would your points here relate to the general idea that information is contextual? That is, that it varies with the system of interpretance engaging it. STAN _______________________________________________ fis mailing list email@example.com https://webmail.unizar.es/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/fis