Sayeed – Phonological theory and Bayesian philosophy of science

[slides of the class]

Theoretical phonologists, especially substance-free phonologists, like to wax philosophical: debates about phonological theory invoke concepts like evidence, explanatory power, simplicity, and other metrics for comparing theories. But so far, the Bayesian program that is now mainstream in formal epistemology and the philosophy of science hasn’t made its way into phonological debates. This course is an introduction to the body of work that treats science as a Bayesian inference problem, discussing the implications of this way of thinking for phonological theory and substance-free phonology in particular.

No background in philosophy or probability theory needed – but some experience with generative phonology will help.