The explanation of animal communication by means of concepts like information, meaning and reference is one of the central foundational issues in animal behaviour studies. This book explores these issues, revolving around questions such as: what is the nature of information? What theoretical roles does information play in animal communication studies? Is it justified to employ these concepts in order to explain animal communication? What is the relation between animal signals and human language? The book approaches the topic from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including ethology, animal cognition, theoretical biology and evolutionary biology, as well as philosophy of biology and mind. A comprehensive introduction familiarises non-specialists with the field and leads on to chapters ranging from philosophical and theoretical analyses to case studies involving primates, birds and insects. The resulting survey of new and established concepts and methodologies will guide future empirical and theoretical research.
Ulrich Stegmann is a Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Aberdeen. After training initially as a biologist, he subsequently switched to philosophy and now specialises in philosophy of biology. He was awarded a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellowship and has previously worked at the Universities of Cambridge and Bristol.
List of contributors; A primer on information and influence in animal communication Ulrich E. Stegmann; Part I. Varieties of Information: 1. Influence and information in communication networks Andrew G. Horn and Peter McGregor; 2. Animal communication as information-mediated influence Andrea Scarantino; 3. Communication as information use: insights from statistical decision theory Caitlin R. Kight, John M. McNamara, David W. Stephens and Sasha R. X. Dall; 4. Communication as a transfer of information: measurement, mechanism, and meaning R. Haven Wiley; 5. Natural information, intentional signs and animal communication Ruth G. Millikan; Part II. Influence and Manipulation: 6. Communication without meaning or information: abandoning language-based and informational constructs in animal communication Drew Rendall and Michael J. Owren; 7. Information in animal communication: when and why does it matter? Sahotra Sarkar; 8. Mitogenetic rays and the information metaphor: transmitted information has seen its day Eugene S. Morton and Richard G. Coss; 9. The importance of integrative biology to sexual selection and communication Michael J. Ryan; Part III. Case Studies: 10. Animal signals: always influence, sometimes information Claire Horisk and Reginald B. Cocroft; 11. Learned signals and consistency of delivery: a case against receiver manipulation in animal communication Carlos A. Botero and Selvino R. de Kort; 12. Information, inference and meaning in primate vocal behaviour Julia Fischer; 13. Information and uncertainty in meerkats and monkeys Colin Allen; 14. The neural representation of vocalisation perception Kate L. Christison-Lagay and Yale E. Cohen; Part IV. Animal Signals in Evolutionary Perspective: 15. The value of information in biology Michael Lachmann; 16. Information and influence in sender-receiver models, with applications to animal behaviour Peter Godfrey-Smith; Part V. From Animal Signals to Human Language: 17. Information, meaning, and animal communication Fred Adams and Steve Beighley; 18. Information, influence and inference in language evolution Thomas C. Scott-Phillips and Simon Kirby; Index.