About this topic
Summary Formal and informal concepts of information are invoked throughout the biological sciences. Genes are said to carry information about environmental conditions, animal signals are said to carry information about mate quality or the presence of predators, chemical signals are said to carry information about the metabolic status of cells. Philosophical work on biological information seeks to categorise these uses in order to relate them to each other and to concepts outside biology. In formal contexts, several mathematical definitions of information and related concepts are available, and debates continue as to the relevance and importance of these formulations. In informal contexts, attributions of information are often closely tied to attributions of meaning, linking these issues with philosophical questions about semantic content. When questions about information attribution arise in the context of neuronal signalling, these issues are closely related to debates in the philosophy of cognitive science.
Key works Godfrey-Smith & Sterelny 2016 give a relatively recent overview of the state of play. Maynard Smith 2000 gave a precise account of the concept of genetic information; Bergstrom & Rosvall 2011 included aspects of information theory to define an even more precise concept. Dawkins & Krebs 1978 found that the concept of information in animal signalling was liable to mislead, while the follow-up Krebs & Dawkins 1984 gave a more tempered view; both papers have been very influential, and recent debate was amply captured by Stegmann 2013. The application of information theory in signalling games, and the relevance to biology of the resulting formal framework, was introduced by the extremely influential Skyrms 2010.
Introductions Godfrey-Smith & Sterelny 2016
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  1. Cognition as management of meaningful information. Proposal for an evolutionary approach (IACAP Aarhus July 2011).Christophe Menant - manuscript
    Humans are cognitive entities. Our ongoing interactions with the environment are threaded with creations and usages of meaningful information. Animal life is also populated with meaningful information related to survival constraints. Information managed by artificial agents can also be considered as having meanings, as derived from the designer. Such perspective brings us to propose an evolutionary approach to cognition based on meaningful information management. We use a systemic tool, the Meaning Generator System (MGS), and apply it consecutively to animals, humans (...)
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  2. Evolution of meaningful information generation through the evolution of life (Biosemiotics Gatherings 2003).Christophe Menant - manuscript
    In this paper, we use the Meaning Generator System (MGS) presented at Gathering in Biosemiotics 2 [1] to analyse the evolution of meaningful information generation through different steps of the evolution of life. Taking as a starting point the usage of MGS for vital constraint satisfaction in basic life (paramecium), we develop its application for more complex living elements up to the case of non-human primate. The thread we follow is relative to the identification of new constraints that can appear (...)
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  3. Information, Constraint and Meaning. From the pre-biotic world to a possible post human one. An evolutionary approach (IS4SI 2017).Christophe Menant - manuscript
    The presentation proposes to complement an existing development on meaning generation for animals, humans and artificial agents by looking at what could have existed at pre-biotic times and what could be a post-human meaning generation. The core of the approach is based on an existing model for meaning generation: the Meaning Generator System (MGS). The MGS is part of an agent submitted to an internal constraint. The MGS generates a meaning when it receives an information that has a connection with (...)
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  4. Life, Local Constraints and Meaning Generation. An Evolutionary Approach to Cognition (2015).Christophe Menant - manuscript
    The relations between life and cogntion have been addressed through different perspectives [Stewart 1996, Boden 2001, Bourgine and Stewart 2004, van Duijn & all 2006, Di Paolo 2009]. We would like here to address that subject by relating life to cognition through a process of meaning generation. Life emerged on earth as a far from thermodynamic equilibrium performance that had to maintain herself. Life is charactertized by a ‘stay alive’ constraint that has to be satisfied (such constraint can be included (...)
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  5. Sensorimotor process with constraint satisfaction. Grounding of meaning (EUCogII 2009).Christophe Menant - manuscript
    There is an increasing agreement in the cognitive sciences community that our sensations are closely related to our actions. Our actions impact our sensations from the environment and the knowledge we have of it. Cognition is grounded in sensori-motor coordination. In the perspective of implementing such a performance in artificial systems, there is a need for a model of sensori-motor coordination. We propose here such a model as based on the generation of meaningful information by a system submitted to a (...)
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  6. When is a biological cause a source of information?Karola Stotz & Paul E. Griffiths - manuscript
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  7. Causal Specificity, Biological Possibility and Non-parity about Genetic Causes.Marcel Weber - manuscript
    Several authors have used the notion of causal specificity in order to defend non-parity about genetic causes (Waters 2007, Woodward 2010, Weber 2017, forthcoming). Non-parity in this context is the idea that DNA and some other biomolecules that are often described as information-bearers by biologists play a unique role in life processes, an idea that has been challenged by Developmental Systems Theory (e.g., Oyama 2000). Indeed, it has proven to be quite difficult to state clearly what the alleged special role (...)
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  8. How Molecules Became Signs.Terrence W. Deacon - forthcoming - Biosemiotics:1-23.
    To explore how molecules became signs I will ask: “What sort of process is necessary and sufficient to treat a molecule as a sign?” This requires focusing on the interpreting system and its interpretive competence. To avoid assuming any properties that need to be explained I develop what I consider to be a simplest possible molecular model system which only assumes known physics and chemistry but nevertheless exemplifies the interpretive properties of interest. Three progressively more complex variants of this model (...)
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  9. Objects and processes: two notions for understanding biological information.Agustín Mercado-Reyes, Pablo Padilla Longoria & Alfonso Arroyo-Santos - forthcoming - Journal of Theoretical Biology.
    In spite of being ubiquitous in life sciences, the concept of information is harshly criticized. Uses of the concept other than those derived from Shannon's theory are denounced as pernicious metaphors. We perform a computational experiment to explore whether Shannon's information is adequate to describe the uses of said concept in commonplace scientific practice. Our results show that semantic sequences do not have unique complexity values different from the value of meaningless sequences. This result suggests that quantitative theoretical frameworks do (...)
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  10. Some resonances between Eastern thought and Integral Biomathics in the framework of the WLIMES formalism for modelling living systems.Plamen L. Simeonov & Andree C. Ehresmann - forthcoming - Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology 131 (Special).
    Forty-two years ago, Capra published “The Tao of Physics” (Capra, 1975). In this book (page 17) he writes: “The exploration of the atomic and subatomic world in the twentieth century has …. necessitated a radical revision of many of our basic concepts” and that, unlike ‘classical’ physics, the sub-atomic and quantum “modern physics” shows resonances with Eastern thoughts and “leads us to a view of the world which is very similar to the views held by mystics of all ages and (...)
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  11. Топология субъектности.Andrej Poleev - 2023 - Enzymes 21.
    Техника представления информации о внешнем и внутреннем мире постоянно развивается, и сейчас она достигла уровня отображения реальности в многообразных её проявлениях и измерениях, прежде недоступных человеческому восприятию. Язык, текст, фотография, звукозапись, а теперь ещё и техника искусственного интеллекта для моделирования человеческой субъектности и её описания в доступной для человеческого понимания форме, стали эпохальными событиями в теории информации. Однако несмотря на то, что на данном этапе её развития она позволяет оперировать с непрерывно возрастающими объёмами информации, это не приближает её теоретиков к (...)
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  12. Regulation and the Normativity Problem.Derek Bolton & Predrag Šustar - 2022 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 35 (2):135-151.
    The concept of regulation pervades biology, for example in models of genetic regulatory networks and the endocrine system. Regulation has a normative opposite, dysregulation, which figures prominently in biomedical models of disease. The use of normative concepts in biology, however, has been thought to present some challenges for the physicalist view of the world, and various resolutions have been proposed. Up to now the problem of biological normativity has been debated largely in connection with the concept of biological information. In (...)
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  13. Vegetative Semiosis.Arran Gare - 2022 - In David Favareau & Ekaterina Velmezova (eds.), Tunne loodust! Knowing Nature in the Languages of Biosemiotics. Epistemologica et historiographica linguistica Lausannensia, № 4. Lausanne, Switzerland: pp. 137-140.
    In “An introduction to phytosemiotics”, a masterwork of integration, Kalevi Kull defended Martin Krampen’s notion of phytosemiotics. In doing so, he developed the notion of vegetative semiosis. In a later work, he argued that vegetative semiosis is not a branch of semiotics, and so should not be identified with phytosemiotics. Rather, vegetative semiosis is a basic form of semiosis and the condition for animal semiosis, which in turn is the condition for cultural semiosis. All multi-celled organisms, including plants, animals and (...)
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  14. Free energy: a user’s guide.Stephen Francis Mann, Ross Pain & Michael D. Kirchhoff - 2022 - Biology and Philosophy 37 (4):1-35.
    Over the last fifteen years, an ambitious explanatory framework has been proposed to unify explanations across biology and cognitive science. Active inference, whose most famous tenet is the free energy principle, has inspired excitement and confusion in equal measure. Here, we lay the ground for proper critical analysis of active inference, in three ways. First, we give simplified versions of its core mathematical models. Second, we outline the historical development of active inference and its relationship to other theoretical approaches. Third, (...)
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  15. Agential Teleosemantics.Tiago Rama - 2022 - Dissertation, Autonomous University of Barcelona
    The field of the philosophy of biology is flourishing in its aim to evaluate and rethink the view inherited from the previous century ---the Modern Synthesis. Different research areas and theories have come to the fore in the last decades in order to account for different biological phenomena that, in the first instance, fall beyond the explanatory scope of the Modern Synthesis. This thesis is anchored and motivated by this revolt in the philosophy of biology. -/- The central target in (...)
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  16. Understanding life through metaphors. [REVIEW]Bartlomiej Swiatczak - 2022 - Metascience 2022:1-3.
    There is a deep-seated neopositivist view which regards the language of science as a neutral medium of communication, radically different from indirect symbolic forms of discourse characteristic of arts and humanities. But naturalists, like poets and social scientists, also draw on the dominant images in their culture to organize their thoughts and simplify complex concepts. By conceptualizing one thing in terms of another, metaphors in science not only aid mutual communication between researchers but also structure their understanding of experience and (...)
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  17. On the Role of Speed in Technological and Biological Information Transfer for Computations.János Végh & Ádám József Berki - 2022 - Acta Biotheoretica 70 (4):1-25.
    In all kinds of implementations of computing, whether technological or biological, some material carrier for the information exists, so in real-world implementations, the propagation speed of information cannot exceed the speed of its carrier. Because of this limitation, one must also consider the transfer time between computing units for any implementation. We need a different mathematical method to consider this limitation: classic mathematics can only describe infinitely fast and small computing system implementations. The difference between mathematical handling methods leads to (...)
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  18. From Engel to Enactivism: Contextualizing the Biopsychosocial Model.Awais Aftab & Kristopher Nielsen - 2021 - European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 17 (2):(M2)5-22.
    In this article we offer a two-part commentary on Bolton and Gillett’s reconceptualization of Engel’s biopsychosocial model. In the first section we present a conceptual and historical assessment of the biopsychosocial model that differs from the analysis by Bolton and Gillett. Specifically, we point out that Engel in his vision of the biopsychosocial model was less concerned with the ontological possibility and nature of psychosocial causes, and more concerned with psychosocial influences in the form of illness interpretation and presentation, sick (...)
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  19. Natural information, factivity and nomicity.Ben Baker - 2021 - Biology and Philosophy 36 (2):1-21.
    Biological and cognitive sciences rely heavily on the idea of information transmitted between natural events or processes. This paper critically assesses some current philosophical views of natural information and defends a view of natural information as Nomic and Factive. Dretske offered a Factive view of information, and recent work on the topic has tended to reject this aspect of his view in favor of a non-Factive, probabilistic approach. This paper argues that the reasoning behind this move to non-Factivity is flawed (...)
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  20. The Biopsychosocial Model of Health and Disease: Responses to the 4 Commentaries.Derek Bolton - 2021 - European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 17 (2):(M6)5-26.
    I respond to the 4 commentaries by Awais Aftab & Kristopher Nielsen, Hane Htut Maung, Diane O’Leary and Kathryn Tabb under 3 main headings: “What is the BPSM really?” & Why update it?; “Is our approach foundationally compromised?”, and finally, “Antagonists or fellow travellers?”.
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  21. Techno-Telepathy & Silent Subvocal Speech-Recognition Robotics.Virgil W. Brower - 2021 - HORIZON. Studies in Phenomenology 10 (1):232-257.
    The primary focus of this project is the silent and subvocal speech-recognition interface unveiled in 2018 as an ambulatory device wearable on the neck that detects a myoelectrical signature by electrodes worn on the surface of the face, throat, and neck. These emerge from an alleged “intending to speak” by the wearer silently-saying-something-to-oneself. This inner voice is believed to occur while one reads in silence or mentally talks to oneself. The artifice does not require spoken sounds, opening the mouth, or (...)
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  22. First principles in the life sciences: the free-energy principle, organicism, and mechanism.Matteo Colombo & Cory Wright - 2021 - Synthese 198 (14):3463–3488.
    The free-energy principle states that all systems that minimize their free energy resist a tendency to physical disintegration. Originally proposed to account for perception, learning, and action, the free-energy principle has been applied to the evolution, development, morphology, anatomy and function of the brain, and has been called a postulate, an unfalsifiable principle, a natural law, and an imperative. While it might afford a theoretical foundation for understanding the relationship between environment, life, and mind, its epistemic status is unclear. Also (...)
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  23. The Living Sign. Reading Noble from a Biosemiotic Perspective.Jos de Mul - 2021 - Biosemiotics 14 (1):107-113.
    The author argues that the reductionist illusions of the Modern Synthesis, which Noble criticizes in his target article, are to a large extent resulting from a mere syntactical notion of biological information, neglecting the pragmatic and semantic dimension of information. Although the syntactical notion, introduced by Shannon, has been applied with much success in information theory and computer technologies, it is too narrow to understand biological reality. Biosemiotics can help to clarify the problems identified by Noble, and offers a more (...)
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  24. Negative CG dinucleotide bias: An explanation based on feedback loops between Arginine codon assignments and theoretical minimal RNA rings.Jacques Demongeot, Andrés Moreira & Hervé Seligmann - 2021 - Bioessays 43 (3):2000071.
    Theoretical minimal RNA rings are candidate primordial genes evolved for non‐redundant coding of the genetic code's 22 coding signals (one codon per biogenic amino acid, a start and a stop codon) over the shortest possible length: 29520 22‐nucleotide‐long RNA rings solve this min‐max constraint. Numerous RNA ring properties are reminiscent of natural genes. Here we present analyses showing that all RNA rings lack dinucleotide CG (a mutable, chemically instable dinucleotide coding for Arginine), bearing a resemblance to known CG‐depleted genomes. CG (...)
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  25. Causation and Causal Selection in the Biopsychosocial Model of Health and Disease.Hane Htut Maung - 2021 - European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 17 (2):5-27.
    In The Biopsychosocial Model of Health and Disease, Derek Bolton and Grant Gillett argue that a defensible updated version of the biopsychosocial model requires a metaphysically adequate account of disease causation that can accommodate biological, psychological, and social factors. This present paper offers a philosophical critique of their account of biopsychosocial causation. I argue that their account relies on claims about the normativity and the semantic content of biological information that are metaphysically contentious. Moreover, I suggest that these claims are (...)
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  26. Information and the History of Philosophy.Chris Meyns (ed.) - 2021 - Routledge.
    In recent years the philosophy of information has emerged as an important area of research in philosophy. However, until now information’s philosophical history has been largely overlooked. Information and the History of Philosophy is the first comprehensive investigation of the history of philosophical questions around information, including work from before the Common Era to the twenty-first century. It covers scientific and technology-centred notions of information; views of human information processing, as well as socio-political topics such as the control and use (...)
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  27. Comment on the Relation between Representation and Information.Ruth Garrett Millikan - 2021 - Biosemiotics 14 (3):581-582.
    Deacon’s target article is a welcome contribution not only on “biological information” but, more generally, on representation in cognitive science. Some kind of explanation and justification for use of the terms “representation” and “interpretant” for primordial autogen system would be helpful. A connection between the notions of “information” and “representation” can be elaborated more in this respect.
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  28. Principles of Information Processing and Natural Learning in Biological Systems.Predrag Slijepcevic - 2021 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 52 (2):227-245.
    The key assumption behind evolutionary epistemology is that animals are active learners or ‘knowers’. In the present study, I updated the concept of natural learning, developed by Henry Plotkin and John Odling-Smee, by expanding it from the animal-only territory to the biosphere-as-a-whole territory. In the new interpretation of natural learning the concept of biological information, guided by Peter Corning’s concept of “control information”, becomes the ‘glue’ holding the organism–environment interactions together. The control information guides biological systems, from bacteria to ecosystems, (...)
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  29. Functional Information: a Graded Taxonomy of Difference Makers.Nir Fresco, Simona Ginsburg & Eva Jablonka - 2020 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 11 (3):547-567.
    There are many different notions of information in logic, epistemology, psychology, biology and cognitive science, which are employed differently in each discipline, often with little overlap. Since our interest here is in biological processes and organisms, we develop a taxonomy of functional information that extends the standard cue/signal distinction. Three general, main claims are advanced here. This new taxonomy can be useful in describing learning and communication. It avoids some problems that the natural/non-natural information distinction faces. Functional information is​ ​produced (...)
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  30. Information-Matter Bipolarity of the Human Organism and Its Fundamental Circuits: From Philosophy to Physics/Neurosciences-Based Modeling.Florin Gaiseanu - 2020 - Philosophy Study 10 (2):107-118.
    Starting from a philosophical perspective, which states that the living structures are actually a combination between matter and information, this article presents the results on an analysis of the bipolar information-matter structure of the human organism, distinguishing three fundamental circuits for its survival, which demonstrates and supports this statement, as a base for further development of the informational model of consciousness to a general informational model of the human organism. For this, it was examined the Informational System of the Human (...)
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  31. Semiosis and Information: Meeting the Challenge of Information Science to Post-Reductionist Biosemiotics.Arran Gare - 2020 - Biosemiotics 13 (3):327-346.
    The concept of information and its relation to biosemiotics is a major area of contention among biosemioticians. Biosemioticians influenced by von Uexküll, Sebeok, Bateson and Peirce are critical of the way the concept as developed in information science has been applied to biology, while others believe that for biosemiotics to gain acceptance it will have to embrace information science and distance biosemiotics from Peirce’s philosophical work. Here I will defend the influence of Peirce on biosemiotics, arguing that information science and (...)
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  32. Elusive vehicles of genetic representation.Riin Kõiv - 2020 - Biology and Philosophy 35 (1):1-24.
    The teleosemantic theory of representational content is held by some philosophers to imply that genes carry semantic information about whole-organism phenotypes. In this paper, I argue that this position is not supported by empirical findings. I focus on one of the most elaborate defenses of this position: Shea’s view that genes represent whole-organism phenotypes. I distinguish between two ways of individuating genes in contemporary biological science as possible vehicles of representational content—as molecular genes and as difference-maker genes. I show that (...)
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  33. Unifying the essential concepts of biological networks: biological insights and philosophical foundations.Daniel Kostic, Claus Hilgetag & Marc Tittgemeyer (eds.) - 2020 - Oxford, UK: Royal Society.
    Over the last two decades, network-focused approaches have become highly popular in diverse fields of biology, including neuroscience, ecology, molecular biology and genetics. While the network approach continues to grow very rapidly, some of its conceptual and methodological aspects still require a programmatic foundation. This challenge particularly concerns the question of whether a generalized account of explanatory, organisational and descriptive levels of networks can be applied universally across biological sciences. Consequently, the central focus of this theme issue will be on (...)
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  34. Problems for Predictive Information.W. Scott Looney - 2020 - Erkenntnis:1-13.
    Predictive information is a popular and promising family of information-based theories of biological communication. It is difficult to adjudicate between predictive information-based theories and influence-based theories of biological communication because the same acts seem to count as communicative on both theories. In this paper, I argue that predictive information theories and influence-based theories give importantly different descriptions of deceptive signals in some non-evolutionarily stable communicative systems by citing a novel case observed in nature. Moreover, predictive information gives a counter-intuitive description (...)
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  35. Consequences of a Functional Account of Information.Stephen Francis Mann - 2020 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 11 (3):1-19.
    This paper aims to establish several interconnected points. First, a particular interpretation of the mathematical definition of information, known as the causal interpretation, is supported largely by misunderstandings of the engineering context from which it was taken. A better interpretation, which makes the definition and quantification of information relative to the function of its user, is outlined. The first half of the paper is given over to introducing communication theory and its competing interpretations. The second half explores three consequences of (...)
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  36. Two Kinds of Information Processing in Cognition.Mark Sprevak - 2020 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 11 (3):591-611.
    What is the relationship between information and representation? Dating back at least to Dretske (1981), an influential answer has been that information is a rung on a ladder that gets one to representation. Representation is information, or representation is information plus some other ingredient. In this paper, I argue that this approach oversimplifies the relationship between information and representation. If one takes current probabilistic models of cognition seriously, information is connected to representation in a new way. It enters as a (...)
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  37. La réalité du champ axiologique : cybernétique et pensée de l'information chez Raymond Ruyer [The reality of the axiological field: Cybernetics and the thinking of information in Raymond Ruyer].Philippe Gagnon - 2018 - Louvain-la-Neuve: Chromatika.
    Description courte (Électre, 2019) : Une étude d'un des principaux axes de réflexion du philosophe des sciences et de la nature Raymond Ruyer (1902-1987). À la lumière des découvertes de l'embryogenèse et en s'appuyant par ailleurs sur la théorie de l'information, il proposa une interprétation des concepts unificateurs de la cybernétique mécaniste. -/- Short Descriptor (Electre 2019): A study of one of the main axes of reflection of the French philosopher of science and of nature Raymond Ruyer (1902-1987). Relying on (...)
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  38. Attribution of Information in Animal Interaction.Stephen Francis Mann - 2018 - Biological Theory 13 (3):164–179.
    This article establishes grounds on which attributions of information and encoding in animal signals are warranted. As common interest increases between evolutionary agents, the theoretical approach best suited to describing their interaction shifts from evolutionary game theory to communication theory, which warrants informational language. The take-home positive message is that in cooperative settings, signals can appropriately be described as transmitting encoded information, regardless of the cognitive powers of signalers. The canonical example is the honeybee waggle dance, which is discussed extensively (...)
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  39. Studying Animal Languages without Translation: An Insight from Ants. By Zhanna Reznikova. [REVIEW]Stephen Francis Mann & Jessica Pfeifer - 2018 - Quarterly Review of Biology 93:38.
  40. The Limits of Measuring Information in Biology: an Ontological Approach.Agustín Mercado-Reyes & Alfonso Arroyo-Santos - 2018 - Biosemiotics 11 (3).
    The concept of biological information, and information in general, usually presupposes a purely quantitative view of reality. Even though actualist quantification has an important place in the description of the world, a nominalistic stance that tries to simplify reality in purely actualist terms inevitably runs into inconsistencies; these inconsistencies have been pointed out by the critical assessments of the notion of biological information. Rather than calling for an abandonment of the informational terminology, we try to rethink information as a part (...)
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  41. Biological Information as Choice and Construction.Arnaud Pocheville - 2018 - Philosophy of Science 85 (5):1012-1025.
    A causal approach to biological information is outlined. There are two aspects to this approach: information as determining a choice between alternative objects and information as determining the construction of a single object. The first aspect has been developed in earlier work to yield a quantitative measure of biological information that can be used to analyze biological networks. This article explores the prospects for a measure based on the second aspect and suggests some applications for such a measure. These two (...)
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  42. Symmetry breaking and the emergence of path-dependence.Hugh Desmond - 2017 - Synthese (10):4101-4131.
    Path-dependence offers a promising way of understanding the role historicity plays in explanation, namely, how the past states of a process can matter in the explanation of a given outcome. The two main existing accounts of path-dependence have sought to present it either in terms of dynamic landscapes or branching trees. However, the notions of landscape and tree both have serious limitations and have been criticized. The framework of causal networks is both more fundamental and more general that that of (...)
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  43. Genetic, epigenetic and exogenetic information in development and evolution.Paul Edmund Griffiths - 2017 - Interface Focus 7 (5).
    The idea that development is the expression of information accumulated during evolution and that heredity is the transmission of this information is surprisingly hard to cash out in strict, scientific terms. This paper seeks to do so using the sense of information introduced by Francis Crick in his sequence hypothesis and central dogma of molecular biology. It focuses on Crick's idea of precise determination. This is analysed using an information-theoretic measure of causal specificity. This allows us to reconstruct some of (...)
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  44. Comparing Causes - an Information-Theoretic Approach to Specificity, Proportionality and Stability.Arnaud Pocheville, Paul Edmund Griffiths & Karola C. Stotz - 2017 - Proceedings of the 15th Congress of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science.
    The interventionist account of causation offers a criterion to distinguish causes from non-causes. It also aims at defining various desirable properties of causal relationships, such as specificity, proportionality and stability. Here we apply an information-theoretic approach to these properties. We show that the interventionist criterion of causation is formally equivalent to non-zero specificity, and that there are natural, information-theoretic ways to explicate the distinction between potential and actual causal influence. We explicate the idea that the description of causes should be (...)
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  45. The Emergence of a New Human Superorganism After Organ Transplantation.Prasad G. V. Ramesh - 2017 - Dissertation, University of Waterloo
    The biological human being is an emergent human superorganism consisting of the human organism physiologically integrated with other organisms. The persistence of a superorganism in space and time requires communication among its organisms. This communication occurs through immune processes at the biological boundaries of these organisms. Immune processes also repair disrupted boundaries, with this repair resulting in either health or disease processes depending on how the boundaries are restored. Health, disease, and biological personal identity all emerge from the mode of (...)
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  46. Neural information and the problem of objectivity.Charles Rathkopf - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (3):321-336.
    A fascinating research program in neurophysiology attempts to quantify the amount of information transmitted by single neurons. The claims that emerge from this research raise new philosophical questions about the nature of information. What kind of information is being quantified? Do the resulting quantities describe empirical magnitudes like those found elsewhere in the natural sciences? In this article, it is argued that neural information quantities have a relativisitic character that makes them distinct from the kinds of information typically discussed in (...)
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  47. Application of the Eco-field and General Theory of Resources to Bark Beetles: Beyond the Niche Construction Theory.F. J. Sánchez-García, V. Machado, J. Galián & D. Gallego - 2017 - Biosemiotics 10 (1):57-73.
    A new approach to landscape ecology involves the application of the eco-field hypothesis and the General Theory of Resources. In this study, we describe the putative eco-field of bark beetles as a spatial configuration with a specific meaning-carrier for every organism-resource interaction. Bark beetles are insects with key roles in matter and energy cycles in coniferous forests, which cause significant changes to forestry landscapes when outbreaks occur. Bark beetles are guided towards host trees by the recognition of semiotic signals using (...)
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  48. Genocentryzm versus teoria systemów rozwojowych. Dwa konkurencyjne sposoby rozumienia informacji w biologii współczesnej.Radosław Siedliński - 2017 - Semina Scientiarum 16:67-93.
    There are (at least) two opposing concepts of biological information, or bioinformation, discussed in the modern philosophy of biology: genocentric (genebased) and holistic. As a main proponent of the former I consider British evolutionist John Maynard Smith and his teleosemantic theory of bioinformation. The latter was proposed by American philosopher Susan Oyama in the form of so-called Developmental Systems Theory (DST). In Maynard Smith proposal bioinformation is strictly gene-based and any non-genetic element of a living organism cannot be considered as (...)
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  49. Biological Information, Causality and Specificity - an Intimate Relationship.Karola Stotz & Paul E. Griffiths - 2017 - In Sara Imari Walker, Paul Davies & George Ellis (eds.), From Matter to Life: Information and Causality. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 366-390.
    In this chapter we examine the relationship between biological information, the key biological concept of specificity, and recent philosophical work on causation. We begin by showing how talk of information in the molecular biosciences grew out of efforts to understand the sources of biological specificity. We then introduce the idea of ‘causal specificity’ from recent work on causation in philosophy, and our own, information theoretic measure of causal specificity. Biological specificity, we argue, is simple the causal specificity of certain biological (...)
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  50. Genetic, epigenetic and exogenetic information.Karola Stotz & Paul Edmund Griffiths - 2017 - In Richard Joyce (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Evolution and Philosophy. London & New York: Routledge.
    We describe an approach to measuring biological information where ‘information’ is understood in the sense found in Francis Crick’s foundational contributions to molecular biology. Genes contain information in this sense, but so do epigenetic factors, as many biologists have recognized. The term ‘epigenetic’ is ambiguous, and we introduce a distinction between epigenetic and exogenetic inheritance to clarify one aspect of this ambiguity. These three heredity systems play complementary roles in supplying information for development. -/- We then consider the evolutionary significance (...)
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