Animal deception and the content of signals

Don Fallis, Peter J. Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


In cases of animal mimicry, the receiver of the signal learns the truth that he is either dealing with the real thing or with a mimic. Thus, despite being a prototypical example of animal deception, mimicry does not seem to qualify as deception on the traditional definition, since the receiver is not actually misled. We offer a new account of propositional content in sender-receiver games that explains how the receiver is misled (and deceived) by mimicry. We show that previous accounts of deception, and of propositional content, give incorrect results about whether certain signals are deceptive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)114-124
Number of pages11
JournalStudies in History and Philosophy of Science
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Animal signaling
  • Deception
  • Game theory
  • Mimicry
  • Propositional content
  • Withholding information

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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