Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Noël Carroll

Committee Members

John Greenwood

Stephen Neale

Michael Devitt

Subject Categories

Aesthetics | Philosophy of Language | Philosophy of Mind | Philosophy of Science


signals, information, animal communication, film, game theory, groups


One of the central issues of contemporary philosophy and biology is the nature of communication. Early accounts of communication tended to focus on just one side of the communicative divide – the speaker side or the receiver side – and took as their starting point the case of human language. Animal communication, historically, was largely treated as a special case. Now things are different. Now it appears we might have a model that makes sense of sign use in both the human and animal realms and brings together both sides of the signaling divide. It’s still to be seen, however, how much the model actually captures, especially the farther down we go on the animal side, and it’s still to be seen how well the model captures the human cases, especially those around the edges. The purpose of this thesis is to explore the foundations of the sender-receiver model and to show that it can cover more than was previously imagined. Topics discussed include the nature of communication and signaling, animal communication, the nature of meaning or content, the communicative nature of objects such as works of art, blueprints, and maps, and the possibility of communication between groups and collective agents.