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


Doug Jones (University of Utah): Linguistic grammar and moral grammar: The case of kinship

What is the scope of Optimality Theory? At its narrowest, it might be a theory of phonology only. At its broadest, it might be a theory of cognition in general. I use human kinship as a test case to argue for an intermediate position. OT seems to account for variation in kin terminology, suggesting that it may be useful in explaining the “grammar” of some semantic fields. Beyond this, it may also be useful in accounting for typological variation in rules of marriage, which suggests a role for OT in “moral grammar.”