Neural information and the problem of objectivity


A fascinating research program in neurophysiology attempts to quantify the amount of information transmitted by single neurons. The claims that emerge from this research raise new philosophical questions about the nature of information. What kind of information is being quantified? Do the resulting quantities describe empirical magnitudes like those found elsewhere in the natural sciences? In this article, it is argued that neural information quantities have a relativisitic character that makes them distinct from the kinds of information typically discussed in the philosophical literature. It is also argued that despite this relativistic character, there are cases in which neural information quantities can be viewed as robustly objective empirical properties.