Department of Philosophy
Carnegie Mellon University
The concept of “signal” in biological and social sciences
“Signals” are a conceptual apparatus in many scientific disciplines. Biologists inquire about the evolution of signals, economists talk about the signaling function of purchases and prices, and philosophers discuss the conditions under which signals acquire meaning. However, little attention has been paid to what is a signal. This paper is an attempt to fill this gap with a definition of signal that avoids reference to form or purpose. Along the way we introduce novel notions of “information revealing” and “information concealing” moves in games. This distinction sheds new light on signaling, especially in biology. In the end, our account offers an alternative to teleological accounts of communication.
A pizza lunch will be served at 11:45am. The seminar will begin at 12:00pm.