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LINGUIST List 22.2044

Thu May 12 2011

Confs: Cognitive Science, Ling Theories/USA

Editor for this issue: Amy Brunett <brunettlinguistlist.org>

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        1.     Tamas Biro , Optimality Theory as a General Cognitive Architecture

Message 1: Optimality Theory as a General Cognitive Architecture
Date: 11-May-2011
From: Tamas Biro <birotnytud.hu>
Subject: Optimality Theory as a General Cognitive Architecture
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Optimality Theory as a General Cognitive Architecture
Short Title: OTGCA

Date: 20-Jul-2011 - 20-Jul-2011
Location: Boston, MA, USA
Contact: Tamas Biro
Contact Email: < click here to access email >
Meeting URL: http://www.birot.hu/events/OTGCA/

Linguistic Field(s): Cognitive Science; Linguistic Theories

Meeting Description:

Optimality Theory as a General Cognitive Architecture
Workshop held at the 33rd annual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society
July 20, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts

Organizers: Tamas Biro (t.s.birouva.nl) and Judit Gervain (judit.gervainparisdescartes.fr)

Optimality Theory has been a very popular approach to linguistic phenomena, but how does it relate to (higher) cognition in general? Twenty-five years after the publication of Harmony Theory (Smolensky, 1986), and five years after The Harmonic Mind (Smolensky and Legendre, 2006), this half-day workshop at the 33rd annual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society offers an opportunity to discuss the place of OT (and HG, and the ICS Architecture) within the cognitive sciences at large, as well as applications of OT to domains beyond linguistics.

Harmony Theory (Smolensky, 1986), introduced exactly 25 years ago, became one of the most popular current approaches to linguistics in the form of Optimality Theory (OT, Prince and Smolensky 1993). While most people in the OT camp focus on particular linguistic problems, the underlying motivations of the theory warrant a constant connection between OT and the (computational) cognitive sciences. The aim of this workshop is to discuss the place of Optimality Theory (and related approaches: Harmony Grammar and the ICS Architecture) within the cognitive sciences at large.

In The Harmonic Mind (2006), Smolensky and Legendre repeatedly allude to the possibility of applying their ICS Architecture to a broad spectrum of domains in (higher) cognition, while maintaining the connection between higher (abstract) level description and lower (neural) level processing. At the same time, some scholars have already adopted Optimality Theory to specific, non-linguistic phenomena, including culture and ethical decision making. Thirdly, experimental and computational OT research often tackle issues that fit nicely into the cognitive psychological tradition, thereby building new bridges between linguistics and other cognitive domains.

Yet, it is sad to see the lack of opportunities for scholars working on OT as a general cognitive architecture to share their ideas. Even less collaboration is going on between the OT-camp and those employing utility function-based models in computational biology, psychology or economics. Therefore, the workshop offers a meeting point to those applying OT to non-linguistic domains, as well as an opportunity to discuss the place of OT, HG and ICS within the cognitive sciences.

The half-day-long workshop consists of a key-note address by Paul Smolensky, as well as by papers delivered by Petra Hendriks, Lotte Hogeweg, Geraldine Legendre and Giorgio Magri. Additionally, the workshop will also feature a poster session.

July 20, 2011, 9:00-12:30.

Preliminary program:

Introduction (Judit Gervain and Tamas Biro)

Keynote address by Paul Smolensky (JHU):
Parallel Distributed Symbol Processing: Well-formedness Optimization and Discretization in Cognition

Giorgio Magri (Institut Jean Nicod): A Comparison between OT and HG from a Computational Perspective

Poster session followed by coffee break

Petra Hendriks (U. of Groningen): Asymmetries between Production and Comprehension and the Development of Theory of Mind

Douglas M. Jones (U. of Utah):
Linguistic Grammar and Moral Grammar: The Case of Kinship

Lotte Hogeweg (RU Nijmegen):
Optimality Theory as a General Linguistic Theory

Closing address by Geraldine Legendre (JHU)

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