Logic and Language

Cailin O'Connor (UC Irvine): Measuring Conventionality

Speaker: Cailin O'Connor (UC Irvine)
Title: Measuring Conventionality
Time: 16:30 - 18:00
Location: Online, via Zoom

Talk starts at 16:30

Note that this talk will start at 16:30, 30 minutes later than usual, to accommodate the speaker's timezone.


To join the meeting, click https://uva-live.zoom.us/j/83171885983.



Standard accounts of convention include notions of arbitrariness. But many have conceived of conventionality as an all or nothing affair. In this paper, I develop a framework for thinking of conventions as coming in degrees of arbitrariness. In doing so, I introduce an information theoretic measure intended to capture the degree to which a solution to a certain social problem could have been otherwise. As the paper argues, this framework can help improve explanation aimed at the cultural evolution of social traits. Good evolutionary explanations recognize that most functional traits are also conventional, at least to some degree, and vice versa.