Make Information in Science Meaningful Again

Logos and Episteme (3):263-286 (2021)
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Abstract

Although the everyday notion of information has clear semantic properties, the all-pervasive technical concept of Shannon information is usually considered as a non-semantic concept. In this paper I show how this concept was implicitly ‘semantized’ in the early 1950s by many authors, such as Rothstein or Brillouin, in order to explain the knowledge dynamics underlying certain scientific practices such as measurement. On the other hand, I argue that the main attempts in the literature to develop a quantitative measure of semantic information to clarify science and scientific measurements, such as Carnap-Bar-Hillel, or Dretske, will not successfully achieve this philosophical aim for several reasons. Finally, I defend the use of a qualitative notion of semantic information within the information-theoretical framework MacKay to assess the informational dynamics underlying scientific practices, particularly measurements in statistical mechanics.

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Javier Anta
Universidad de Sevilla

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References found in this work

An Outline of a Theory of Semantic Information.Rudolf Carnap & Yehoshua Bar-Hillel - 1954 - Journal of Symbolic Logic 19 (3):230-232.

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