Deflating the deflationary view of information
Christopher Timpson proposes a deflationary view about information, according to which the term ‘information’ is an abstract noun and, as a consequence, information is not part of the material contents of the world. The main purpose of the present article consists in supplying a critical analysis of this proposal, which will lead us to conclude that information is an item even more abstract than what Timpson claims. From this view, we embrace a pluralist stance that recognizes the legitimacy of different interpretations of the concept of information.
KeywordsInformation Shannon Deflationary interpretation Epistemic interpretation Physical interpretation
We are extremely grateful to Jeffrey Bub for his stimulating comments about our work on information and for suggesting the title of this paper. We also want to thank Dennis Dieks for his constant encouragement. We are also very grateful to the anonymous reviewers, whose sharp comments contributed to improve the first version of this work. This paper was supported by a Large Grant of the Foundational Questions Institute (FQXi), and by a grant of the National Council of Scientific and Technological Research (CONICET) of Argentina.
- Adriaans, P. (2013). Information. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (Fall 2013 Edn.). http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2013/entries/information/.
- Adriaans, P., & van Benthem, J. (2008). Philosophy of information (handbook of the philosophy of science 8). Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar
- Austin, J. L. (1950). Truth. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society. In M. P. Lynch (Ed.), The nature of truth: classic and contemporary perspectives (pp. 25–40). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Bar-Hillel, Y. (1964). Language and information: selected essays on their theory and application. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
- Berkson, W. (1974). Fields of force: the development of a world view from faraday to Einstein. London: Routledge and K. Paul.Google Scholar
- Dretske, F. (1981). Knowledge & the flow of information. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Earman, J. (1989). World enough and space-time: absolute versus relational theories of space and time. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Floridi, L. (2015). Semantic conceptions of information. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (Spring 2015 Edn.). http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2015/entries/informationsemantic/.
- Frigg, R. (2008). A field guide to recent work on the foundations of statistical mechanics. In D. Rickles (Ed.), The Ashgate companion to contemporary philosophy of physics (pp. 99–196). Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing.Google Scholar
- Graham, G. (1999). The internet: a philosophical inquiry. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Khinchin, A. (1957). Mathematical foundations of information theory. New York: Dover.Google Scholar
- Kolmogorov, A. (1965). Three approaches to the quantitative definition of information. Problems of Information Transmission, 1, 4–7.Google Scholar
- Lombardi, O., & Labarca, M. (2005). Los enfoques de Boltzmann y Gibbs frente al problema de la irreversibilidad. Critica, 37, 39–81.Google Scholar
- Lombardi, O., Fortin, S., & Vanni, L. (2015a). A pluralist view about information. Philosophy of Science. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/683650.
- Reza, F. (1961). Introduction to information theory. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
- Robinson, H. (2014). Substance. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (Spring 2014 Edn.). http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2014/entries/substance/.
- Shannon, C. (1993). In N. Sloane & A. Wyner (Eds.), Collected papers. New York: IEEE Press.Google Scholar
- Shannon, C., & Weaver, W. (1949). The mathematical theory of communication. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
- Strawson, P. F. (1950). Truth. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society. In M. P. Lynch (Ed.), The nature of truth: classic and contemporary perspectives (pp. 447–471). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Timpson, C. (2004). Quantum information theory and the foundations of quantum mechanics. Ph.D diss., University of Oxford (arXiv:quant-ph/0412063).Google Scholar
- Timpson, C. D. (2008). Philosophical aspects of quantum information theory. In D. Rickles (Ed.), The Ashgate companion to the new philosophy of physics (pp. 197–261). Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing.Google Scholar
- Wetzel, L. (2011). Types and tokens. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (Spring 2011 Edn.). http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2014/entries/types-tokens/.