Comment on “Thinking about Semantic Information”

Avant, Vol. XI, No. 2, doi: 10.26913/avant.2020.02.15
published under license CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

Daniel C. Dennett
Center for Cognitive Studies,
Tufts University, Medford, MA USA

The commented paper: M. Miłkowski. (2020). Thinking about Semantic Information. Avant, 11(2). doi: 10.26913/avant.2020.02.08

Received 30 June 2020; accepted 9 July 2020; published Online First 22 July 2020
Download full text

Marcin Milkowski provides an insightful overview of work on information theories over the years, from Gabor and Shannon to Wolpert and Kolchinski. He accurately summarizes my work, distilling four claims that I made in BBB, and argues that my arguments in favor of the last two of these are invalid.
3. The amount of semantic information carried or contained in any delimited episode or item is also not usefully measurable in units but roughly comparable in local circumstances.
4. Semantic information need not be encoded to be transmitted or saved (Dennett, 2017, p. 128). […]

Keywords: semantic information; information theory; encoding; satisfaction conditions; information measures; From Bacteria to Bach and Back


Dennett, D.C. (1969). Content and Consciousness. London and New York: Routledge Classics.
Dennett, D. C. (1995). Darwin’s Dangerous Idea. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Dennett, D. C. (2017). From bacteria to Bach and back: The evolution of minds. New York: WW Norton & Company.
Floridi, L. (2010). Information: A very short introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
MacKay, D. M. (1969). Information, mechanism and meaning. Cambridge: M.I.T. Press.
Miłkowski, M. (2019). Thinking about Semantic Information. Avant, 11(2).
Richard, M. (2020). Meanings as Species. Harvard: Harvard University Press.

“Avant” journal – the task financed under the contract 711/P-DUN/2019 from the funds of the Minister of Science and Higher Education for the dissemination of science.
Czasopismo „Avant” – zadanie finansowane w ramach umowy 711/P-DUN/2019 ze środków Ministra Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego przeznaczonych na działalność upowszechniającą naukę.

Comments are closed.