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Information is intrinsically semantic but alethically neutral

Abstract

In this paper I argue that, according to a particular physicalist conception of information, information is both alethically neutral or non-alethic, and is intrinsically semantic. The conception of information presented is physicalist and reductionist, and is contrary to most current pluralist and non-reductionist philosophical opinion about the nature of information. The ontology assumed for this conception of information is based upon physicalist non-eliminative ontic structural realism. However, the argument of primary interest is that information so construed is intrinsically semantic on a reductionist and non-alethic basis where semantic content is constituted by indication along causal pathways. Similar arguments have been presented by philosophers with respect to representation. I suggest the conception of information that I present is correct by the lights of the best applied mathematical and scientific theories of information. If so, there is no need for any separate theory of semantic information. Thus I present a theory of intrinsically semantic information which also constitutes an informational theory of truth where truth reduces to information. In the last section I discuss weakly and strongly semantic information, and reject them in favour of alethically neutral intrinsically semantic information.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Long 2013

  2. 2.

    My thanks to Paul Griffiths for pressing me on this analysis in discussions

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Acknowledgments

Many thanks are due to Professor Paul Griffiths, and to both anonymous reviewers, for many helpful comments.

Author information

Correspondence to Bruce Raymond Long.

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Long, B.R. Information is intrinsically semantic but alethically neutral. Synthese 191, 3447–3467 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-014-0457-7

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Keywords

  • Information
  • The philosophy of information
  • Information theory
  • Informational semantics
  • Semantics
  • Metaphysics
  • Shannon
  • Floridi
  • Kolmogorov
  • Semantic theories of information
  • Weakly semantic information
  • Strongly semantic information