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Join Cailin O’Connor for a work in progress seminar focused on her paper, Measuring Conventionality. Event details will be emailed to members of the Rotman Institute. Other members of the campus community interested in participating are asked to please contact Deborah Fox. Lunch will be provided. For planning purposes, advance registration is required.


Conventions are usually treated as univocal, but I argue here that they are better thought of as coming in degrees of arbitrariness.  In doing so, I use information theory to measure the degree to which a convention could have been otherwise.  This kind of understanding can, hopefully, improve evolutionary explanation of cultural traits.


Cailin O’Connor is a philosopher of biology and behavioral sciences, philosopher of science, and evolutionary game theorist.  She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science, and a member of the Institute for Mathematical Behavioral Science at UC Irvine. She is currently co- administering the NSF grant “Consensus, Democracy, and the Public Understanding of Science” with philosopher of physics James Owen Weatherall (previous NSF grant Social Dynamics and Diversity in Epistemic Communities).  Their co-authored trade book The Misinformation Age was published with Yale University Press.