Stephen Mann is a philosopher
AI Ethics students (PHIL3073) see the course outline and Wattle site.

Who are you?

I'm in the middle of a PhD in philosophy of biology at the Australian National University. I answer questions like
  • in what sense do biological signals carry information? and
  • how are naturally evolved systems like designed systems? and
  • what are the connections between decision theory, game theory and communication theory?

I won't publish, referee, or do editorial work for Elsevier journals and I am in good company.


What have you written?

2018 Consequences of a functional account of information

Review of Philosophy and Psychology 1-19
Quick summary Defining information with respect to the function of its user opens the door to realist interpretations in cognitive science, microbiology and elsewhere.

2018 Attribution of information in animal interaction

Biological Theory 13 (3)   164-179
Quick summary Responding to scepticism about the use of information theory in behavioural ecology, I demonstrate how quantification of the honey bee waggle dance captures forager accuracy.

2018 [Review of] Studying Animal Languages without Translation by Zhanna Reznikova [with Jessica Pfeifer]

Quarterly Review of Biology 93 (1)   38
Quick summary Short review of Reznikova's book collecting decades of her work on ant foraging and colony intelligence.

What are you writing now?

Teleosemantics and the hard problem of content [with Ross Pain]

conditional accept
Quick summary Teleosemantics, a theory of content, survives recent objections that claim its definition of content is too weak to do required explanatory work.

CHIELD: The Causal Hypotheses in Evolutionary Linguistics Database [with Seán Roberts and 25 others]

in progress
Quick summary We present the Causal Hypotheses in Evolutionary Linguistics Database (CHIELD), a tool for expressing, exploring, and evaluating hypotheses about the origin and evolution of language.

Cultural evolution of humpback whale songs [with Anton Killin]

in progress
Quick summary Humpback whales learn songs from conspecifics, leading to cultural evolutionary patterns that are difficult to explain, but that won't prevent us from trying.

Sense and sense stability

in progress
Quick summary Rate distortion theory and costly signalling theory are mathematically equivalent, a result that has surprising implications for naturalist approaches to meaning.

Communication and cooperation in evolutionary biology [PhD thesis]

in progress
Quick summary We can employ mathematical tools and concepts from communications engineering to understand biological signalling, and so interpret empirical results in terms of Ruth Millikan's teleosemantic project.

Any conferences and workshops?

May 2019 We should get rid of the distinction between Shannon information and semantic information

Presented at Philsoc seminar , Australian National University

Dec 2018 Prediction and Uncertainty [with Ross Pain]

Symposium as part of Australasian Society for Philosophy and Psychology 2018 meeting , Macquarie University, Sydney

Sept 2018 Applied cultural evolution: Studying language change with evolutionary methods

Presented at Evolving Minds , Charles Darwin University, Darwin

June 2018 Communication and selection

Presented at Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution , Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena, Germany

Feb 2018 Unitrackers in artificial and natural cognition

Presented at Naturally Evolving Minds , University of Wollongong

Nov 2019 The mechanics of representation: teleosemantics meets the free energy principle [with Ross Pain]

Presented at Mental Representations in a Mechanical World , Ruhr-Universität Bochum

How about a CV?

I have a one-page CV as well as an extended CV.

Why does this site look retro yet elegant?

Because it was built using the theme Would have been cool in the 80s for the website creation tool Hugo.

How can I get a site like this?

Just email me. I own the domain isaphilosopher.com and am happy to create new sites for philosophers for free. There are loads of themes to choose from.

What do you look like?

here I am on the right with Hedvig