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The explanation of animal communication by means of concepts like information, meaning and reference is one of the central foundational issues in animal behaviour studies. This book explores these issues, revolving around questions such as: what is the nature of information? What theoretical roles does information play in animal communication studies? Is it justified to employ these concepts in order to explain animal communication? What is the relation between animal signals and human language? The book approaches the topic from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including ethology, animal cognition, theoretical biology and evolutionary biology, as well as philosophy of biology and mind. A comprehensive introduction familiarises non-specialists with the field and leads on to chapters ranging from philosophical and theoretical analyses to case studies involving primates, birds and insects. The resulting survey of new and established concepts and methodologies will guide future empirical and theoretical research.
Provides an introduction to informational and non-informational explanations of animal communication, making this important topic accessible to students and researchers in a range of relevant disciplines
Presents a multidisciplinary approach, with specially commissioned chapters from contributors working in ethology, animal cognition, theoretical biology, decision theory, evolutionary biology and philosophy of biology, mind and language
Surveys the conceptual foundations of animal behaviour studies, providing valuable information to researchers working on communication in a wide variety of taxa, not just primates or other mammals
Reviews & endorsements
The best aspect of the book [is] that it not only provides ideas about communication but the evidence and thought processes behind them - an excellent example of scientific theory making in action. Summing up: highly recommended.' J. A. Mather, Choice