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Welcome to the San Francisco Bay Area Philosophy of Science Working Group's website.  You will find announcements of our events, a calendar and links to other series of talks of interest to philosophers of science.   The group has been organized by

Michael Friedman, Stanford University

Vadim Keyser, San Francisco State University 
Elaine Landry, University of California, Davis

David Stump, University of San Francisco
mailto: stumpd@usfca.edu

Bas van Fraassen, San Francisco State University
mailto: fraassen@sfsu.edu

This site was created by David Stump.  To get your name on the mailing list for future events or to post information regarding an upcoming event, send a email to David Stump stumpd@usfca.edu


Upcoming events 


Friday 9/29/2017, 6-8pm, at SFSU, room HUM 587 on the 5th floor of the Humanities building.  
Speaker:  Judith Degen, Stanford University
Title:  Overinformativeness? Rationally redundant reference 

Abstract:  
Referring is one of the most basic and prevalent uses of language. How do speakers choose from the wealth of referring expressions at their disposal? Rational theories of language use have come under attack for decades for not being able to account for the seemingly irrational overinformativeness ubiquitous in referring expressions. I present a novel production model of referring expressions within the Rational Speech Act framework that treats speakers as agents that soft-optimally trade off cost and informativeness of utterances. Crucially, the assumption of deterministic meanings is relaxed. This allows for capturing a large number of seemingly disparate phenomena within one unified framework: the basic asymmetry in speakers’ propensity to overmodify with color rather than size; the increase in overmodification in complex scenes; the increase in overmodification with atypical features; and the preference for basic level reference in nominal reference. The findings cast a new light on the production of referring expressions: rather than being wastefully overinformative, reference is rationally redundant. This implicates a production system geared towards communicative efficiency.




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