About the concept of information
SEBASTIAN FORTIN AND OLIMPIA LOMBARDI
CONICET, University of Buenos Aires (Argentina)
 
For the talk slides, see Slides
For the talk video, see Video
 

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).

References
Bub, J. (2007). “Quantum Information and Computation.” Pp. 555-660, in J. Butterfield and J. Earman (eds.), Philosophy of Physics. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
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: MIT Press.
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: de Gruyter.
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 University Press.
Landauer, R. (1991). “Information is Physical.” Physics Today, 44: 23-29.
Landauer, R. (1996). “The Physical Nature of Information.” Physics Letters A, 217: 188-193.
Lombardi, O. (2004). “What is information?” Foundations of Science, 9: 105-134.
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.