Social Deliberation: Nash, Bayes, and the Partial Vindication of Gabriele Tarde

Episteme 6 (2):164-184 (2009)
Abstract
At the very end of the 19th century, Gabriele Tarde wrote that all society was a product of imitation and innovation. This view regarding the development of society has, to a large extent, fallen out of favour, and especially so in those areas where the rational actor model looms large. I argue that this is unfortunate, as models of imitative learning, in some cases, agree better with what people actually do than more sophisticated models of learning. In this paper, I contrast the behaviour of imitative learning with two more sophisticated learning rules (one based on Bayesian updating, the other based on the Nash-Brown-von Neumann dynamics) in the context of social deliberation problems. I show for two social deliberation problems, the Centipede game and a simple Lewis sender-receiver game, that imitative learning provides better agreement with what people actually do, thus partially vindicating Tarde
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