Colloquium: Cailin O'Connor (UC Irvine)
Fri February 25th 2022, 3:30 - 5:30pm
This will be a hybrid event. Stanford affiliates are able to attend in person in Building 100, room 101K; non-Stanford affiliates are asked to join via Zoom.
Title: Measuring Conventionality
Abstract: 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.
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