Representation without Informative Signalling

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Various writers have attempted to use the sender-receiver formalism to account for the representational capacities of biological systems. This paper has two goals. First, I argue that the sender-receiver approach to representation cannot be complete. The mammalian circadian system represents the time of day, yet it does not control circadian behaviours by producing signals with time of day content. Informative signalling need not be the basis of our most basic representational capacities. Second, I argue that representational capacities are primarily about control, and only when specific conditions obtain does this control require informative signalling.

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Gerardo Viera
University of Sheffield

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