Regarding the concept of information, the first distinction to be
introduced is that between a semantic view, according to which
information carries semantic content and, thus, is related to notions as
reference and meaning (Floridi 2010, 2011), and a statistical view,
concerned with the statistical properties of a system and/or the
correlations between the states of two systems. The locus classicus of
the statistical concept is the famous article by Claude Shannon (1948),
where a precise formalism is introduced; however, in spite of the
agreement concerning the traditional and well understood formalism, the
very interpretation of the concept of information is far from unanimous.
Here we will distinguish the epistemic (Dretske 1981, Dunn 2001, Caves,
Fuchs and Schack 2002) and the physical (Landauer 1991, 1996, Rovelli
1996) interpretations of the concept of information, considering their
advantages and shortcomings, and we will consider a pluralist view based
on a formal interpretation of the concept (Lombardi 2004, Lombardi,
Fortin & Vanni 2014).
During the last decades, new interpretive problems have arisen with the
advent of quantum information, which combine the difficulties in the
understanding of the concept of information with the well-known
foundational puzzles derived from quantum mechanics itself. This
situation contrasts with the huge development of the research field
named ‘quantum information’, where new formal results multiply rapidly.
In this context, the question to be answered is: are there two different
kinds of information, classical and quantum? In this article we will
contrast the views that give a positive answer of this question in terms
of the different ways of generating and transmitting information (Timpson
2008, 2013, Duwell 2008), with those that conceive classical information
as a particular case of quantum information (Bub 2007), and also with
those that claim that there is a single kind of information, which can
be encoded by means of classical or quantum systems (Duwell 2003,
Lombardi, Holik & Vanni 2014).
Bub, J. (2007). “Quantum Information and Computation.” Pp. 555-660, in
J. Butterfield and J. Earman (eds.), Philosophy of Physics. Amsterdam:
Caves, C. M., Fuchs, C. A. and Schack, R. (2002). “Unknown Quantum
States: The Quantum de Finetti Representation.” Journal of Mathematical
Physics, 43: 4537-4559.
Dretske, F. (1981). Knowledge and the Flow of Information. Cambridge MA:
Dunn, J. M. (2001). “The Concept of Information and the Development of
Modern Logic.” Pp. 423-427, in W. Stelzner (ed.), Non-classical
Approaches in the Transition from Traditional to Modern Logic. Berlin:
Duwell, A. (2003). “Quantum Information Does Not Exist.” Studies in
History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, 34: 479-499.
Duwell, A. (2008). “Quantum Information Does Exist.” Studies in History
and Philosophy of Modern Physics, 39: 195-216.
Floridi, L. (2010). Information – A Very Short Introduction. Oxford:
Oxford University Press.
Floridi, L. (2011). The Philosophy of Information. Oxford: Oxford
Landauer, R. (1991). “Information is Physical.” Physics Today, 44:
Landauer, R. (1996). “The Physical Nature of Information.” Physics
Letters A, 217: 188-193.
Lombardi, O. (2004). “What is information?” Foundations of Science, 9:
Lombardi, O., Holik, F. and Vanni, L. (2014). “What is quantum
information?”, PhilSci Archive forthcoming.
Lombardi, O., Fortin, S. and Vanni, L. (2014). “A Pluralist View About
Information.” Philosophy of Science, forthcoming.
Rovelli, C. (1996). “Relational Quantum Mechanics.” International
Journal of Theoretical Physics, 35: 1637-1678.
Shannon, C. (1948). “The Mathematical Theory of Communication.” Bell
System Technical Journal, 27: 379-423.
Timpson, C. (2008). “Philosophical Aspects of Quantum Information Theory.”
Pp. 197-261, in D. Rickles (ed.), The Ashgate Companion to the New
Philosophy of Physics. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing (page numbers are
taken from the on line version: arXiv:quant-ph/0611187).
Timpson, C. (2013). Quantum Information Theory and the Foundations of
Quantum Mechanics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.