The Metaphysics of Information

Fred Dretske


In the paper I will be asking what information is, why it is so important (we spend huge amounts of money on its collection and distribution), and what (in its nature) accounts for this importance. Everybody seems to agree that information is important. Maybe even necessary. Nonetheless, there isn’t much agreement about what it is. Engineers, computer scientists, educators, librarians, newscasters, the CIA and FBI, and, yes, even your neighborhood busybody traffic in information — they spend billions of dollars on its collection, storage, and retrieval — but there is little consensus about the nature of this commodity. To merit all this attention - an attention amounting, at times, to obsession — information must be at least three things: (1) It must be a semantic (intentional) entity; it must, that is, be about something; (2) it must, furthermore, be true; there is no false information; and (3) it must be transferable. These three properties define the nature of this metaphysical beast.


20th century philosophy; media philosophy; philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; computer science; information; information science; intention; truth

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