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If the currently available theories of semantic information and utility-expectation are to be applied in a satisfactory way, they must be combined with a message-processing procedure. This paper presents a model of communication within which such a procedure can be defined. In this model the sender's messages arrive over a period of time, the receiver can reject some messages and retain others, the receiver can change his mind in various ways, and the receiver can apply various evaluation functions to a “usable message total”. As one example of message-evaluation, a system for evaluating news-value is presented.
A logic of questions and answers exists within the logic of statements, if we make the following identifications (roughly): “Whether” questions are identified with true exclusive disjunctions, and “which” questions are identified with true existential quantifications. The question-and-answer process is interpreted as an information-matching game. The question mark is not needed except as a device of abbreviation. Complete and partial answers can be distinguished and various relations of relevance, independence, and resolution defined.
In this paper I discuss a generalization of communication theory. I sketch a model of the communication situation sufficiently general to subsume all models of particular aspects of communication. Several definitions and lines of inquiry are proposed. It will be evident that much of what I say has been influenced by Bar-Hillel (1), and also that this paper goes beyond Bar-Hillel's both in generality of scope and in details of analysis. The more general aim of the paper is to suggest a reconstruction of our intuitions regarding communication. In particular, I argue that we should drop the idea that anything is “conveyed” in communication.
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