CV & Biographical







John Dewey

Science, M&E








Peter Godfrey-Smith: Papers


One area of my current research is developing a theory of signs (representations, etc.) based on the co-evolution of sign-making and sign-using behaviors. This approach is inspired in large part by Brian Skyrms' naturalistic generalization of David Lewis' 1969 model of "conventional" signaling.


Central papers: The first sections of these papers are fairly similar and they diverge in their applications.

The Evolution of Meaning (Thacher Lecture at George Washington University, 2012). Summarizes my approach and applies it to debates about mental representation.

Representation and Memory. Memory is the sending of messages over time – sending messages between temporal stages of a single agent.

A paper about Animal Communication. Looks especially at the role of 'common interest' in the maintenance of communication, in animals and elsewhere.

Sender-Receiver Systems Within and Between Organisms. Presented at PSA 2012.



In the Beginning there was Information? Discusses the involvement that signs have with states of the world in different sender-receiver setups. Compares the sender-receiver view to Dretske's work in the 1980s.

Signs, Icons, and Beliefs. A contribution to a collection of papers on Ruth Millikan's work. Looks at the relation between the sender-receiver framework and Millikan's teleosemantics. This paper also makes connections to deflationary ways of thinking about semantic properties – those have a role in the story too.

A review of Brian Skyrm's book Signals, which appeared in Mind in 2011. Discusses the relation between the sender-receiver model and information theory. Also looks at deception.

A note on Carl Bergstrom and Martin Rosvall's application of information theory to genetics. Do our genomes contain a message that is sent and received? Their paper is here and their reply is here.