Contents. Introduction. 1. Preliminaries. 2. Normal Form Games. 3. Extensive Games. 4. Applications of Game Theory. 5. The Methodology of Game Theory. Conclusion. Appendix. Bibliography. Index. Does game theory—the mathematical theory of strategic interaction—provide genuine explanations of human behaviour? Can game theory be used in economic consultancy or other normative contexts? Explaining Games: The Epistemic Programme in Game Theory—the first monograph on the philosophy of game theory—is an attempt to combine insights from epistemic logic and the philosophy of science to (...) investigate the applicability of game theory in such fields as economics, philosophy and strategic consultancy. I prove new mathematical theorems about the beliefs, desires and rationality principles of individual human beings, and explore in detail the logical form of game theory as it is used in explanatory and normative contexts. I argue that game theory reduces to rational choice theory if used as an explanatory device, and that game theory is nonsensical if used as a normative device. A provocative account of the history of game theory reveals that this is not bad news for all of game theory, though. Two central research programmes in game theory tried to find the ultimate characterisation of strategic interaction between rational agents. Yet, while the Nash Equilibrium Refinement Programme has done badly thanks to such research habits as overmathematisation, model-tinkering and introversion, the Epistemic Programme, I argue, has been rather successful in achieving this aim. "The 'epistemic' approach to game theory has emerged over the past twenty-five years. What is this approach? How does it differ from the conventional equilibrium-based approach to game theory? What have been its strengths and weaknesses to date? To find out, read this comprehensive and excellently written account". Adam Brandenburger, J. P. Valles Professor of Business Economics and Strategy, Stern School of Business, New York University "Reading Boudewijn de Bruin's book should be rewarding both for game theorists interested in the conceptual foundations of their discipline and for philosophers who want to learn more about formal analysis of strategic interaction. It provides an in-depth logical study of the currently dominant epistemic approaches to non-cooperative games, with an eye both to the attractions and to the serious challenges facing the Epistemic Programme". Wlodek Rabinowicz, Professor of Practical Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, Lund University . (shrink)
This paper presents an argument for the value of privacy that is based on a purely negative concept of freedom only. I show that privacy invasions may decrease a person’s negative freedom as well as a person’s knowledge about the negative freedom she possesses. I argue that not only invasions that lead to actual interference, but also invasions that lead to potential interference (many cases of identity theft) constitute actual harm to the invadee’s liberty interests, and I critically examine the (...) courts’ reliance on a principle of ‘no harm, no foul’ in recent data breach cases. Using a number of insights from the psychology of human belief, I also show that the liberal claim for protection of privacy is strengthened by the observation that often the privacy invader cannot be held responsible for the influence on the invadee’s negative freedom. (shrink)
This paper argues that liberal freedom (non-interference) is epistemologically prior to republican freedom (non-domination). I start investigate three relations between liberal and republican freedom: (i) Logical Equivalence, or the question whether republican freedom entails liberal freedom (and vice versa); (ii) Degree Supervenience, or whether changes in the degree (amount, quantity) of republican freedom are mirrored by changes in the degree of liberal freedom (and vice versa); and (iii) Epistemological Priority, that is, whether knowledge about arrangements of republican freedom presupposes knowledge (...) about arrangements of liberal freedom. If Logical Equivalence holds, liberals are right to claim that republicans have not introduced a new concept of freedom. It is easy to see, though, that Logical Equivalence does not hold. If Degree Supervenience holds, liberals can maintain that while republican freedom is a new concept of freedom, fostering or promoting it is not very different from fostering or promoting liberal freedom. Degree Supervenience does not hold either, though, and as a result two straightforward counterarguments against republican freedom fail. Yet, I argue, first, that the relation of Epistemological Priority holds: knowing something about arrangements of republican freedom presupposes that you know something about arrangements of liberal freedom. Using Epistemological Priority, I show, second, that the benefits claimed for republican freedom over and above liberal freedom (it minimizes the need for strategic deference, it minimizes uncertainty, and it minimizes subordination) can be accounted for in purely liberal terms. (shrink)
The paper argues that the Nash Equilibrium Refinement Programme in game theory was less successful than its competitor, the Epistemic Programme (Interactive Epistemology). The prime criterion of success is the extent to which the programmes were able to reach the key objective guiding non-cooperative game theory for much of the 20th century, namely, to develop a complete characterisation of the strategic rationality of economic agents in the form of the ultimate game theoretic solution concept for any normal form and extensive (...) game. The paper explains this in terms of unjustified degrees of mathematisation in the Nash Equilibrium Refinement Programme. While this programme's mathematical models were often inspired by purely mathematical concerns rather than the economic phenomena they were intended to be mathematical models of, the Epistemic Programme's mathematical models were developed with a keen eye to the role beliefs and desires play in strategic interaction between rational economic agents playing games; that is, their Interactive Epistemology. The Epistemic Programme succeeded in developing mathematical models formalising aspects of strategic interaction that remained implicit in the Nash Equilibrium Refinement Programme due to an unjustified degree of mathematisation. As a result, the Epistemic Programme is more successful in game theory . (shrink)
I argue that game theoretic explanations of human actions make implausible epistemological assumptions. A logical analysis of game theoretic explanations shows that they do not conform to the belief-desire framework of action explanation. Epistemic characterization theorems (specifying sufficient conditions for game theoretic solution concepts to obtain) are argued to be the canonical way to make game theory conform to that framework. The belief formation practices implicit in epistemic characterization theorems, however, disregard all information about players except what can be found (...) in the game itself. And such a practice of belief formation is, I show, implausible. (shrink)
This paper analyzes the logical form of valuing. I argue that valuing a concept or property is a universal statement qua logical form, that valuing an object is an existential statement qua logical form, and, furthermore, that a correct analysis of the logical form of valuing contains doxastic operators. I show that these ingredients give rise to an interesting interplay between uniform and ununiform quantification, on the one hand, and de dicto and de re beliefs, on the other. I apply (...) this analysis to the value of political freedom. The received view is that the value of freedom lies in the value of the specific things one is free to do. But Ian Carter has recently shown that freedom has irreducible, "non-specific" value, too. I show that underlying the debate between the proponents of the received view and their critics is a disagreement about logical form: ununiform de dicto beliefs about freedom as a concept, for the received view, and uniform half-de dicto-half-de re beliefs about freedom as an object, for its critics. (shrink)
Margaret Gilbert's plural subject theory defines social collectives in terms of common knowledge of expressed willingness to participate in some joint action. The author critically examines Gilbert's application of this theory to linguistic phenomena involving "we," arguing that recent work in linguistics provides the tools to develop a superior account. The author indicates that, apart from its own relevance, one should care about this critique because Gilbert's claims about the first person plural pronoun play a role in the argument in (...) favor of her recent theory of political obligation. Key Words: collective agent • Gilbert • plural subject • semantics • we. (shrink)
In this note, I show how Christian List's modal logic of republican freedom (as published in this journal in 2006) can be extended (1) to grasp the differences between liberal freedom (noninterference) and republican freedom (non-domination) in terms of two purely logical axioms and (2) to cover a more recent definition of republican freedom in terms of `arbitrary interference' that gains popularity in the literature.
Using epistemic logic, we provide a non-probabilistic way to formalise payoff uncertainty, that is, statements such as ‘player i has approximate knowledge about the utility functions of player j.’ We show that on the basis of this formalisation common knowledge of payoff uncertainty and rationality (in the sense of excluding weakly dominated strategies, due to Dekel and Fudenberg (1990)) characterises a new solution concept we have called ‘mixed iterated strict weak dominance.’.
We develop a logical system that captures two different interpretations of what extensive games model, and we apply this to a long-standing debate in game theory between those who defend the claim that common knowledge of rationality leads to backward induction or subgame perfect (Nash) equilibria and those who reject this claim. We show that a defense of the claim à la Aumann (1995) rests on a conception of extensive game playing as a one-shot event in combination with a principle (...) of rationality that is incompatible with it, while a rejection of the claim à la Reny (1988) assumes a temporally extended, many-moment interpretation of extensive games in combination with implausible belief revision policies. In addition, the logical system provides an original inductive and implicit axiomatization of rationality in extensive games based on relations of dominance rather than the usual direct axiomatization of rationality as maximization of expected utility. (shrink)
This paper contributes to an increasing literature strengthening the connection between epistemic logic and epistemology (Van Benthem, Hendricks). I give a survey of the most important applications of epistemic logic in epistemology. I show how it is used in the history of philosophy (Steiner's reconstruction of Descartes' sceptical argument), in solutions to Moore's paradox (Hintikka), in discussions about the relation between knowledge and belief (Lenzen) and in an alleged refutation of verificationism (Fitch) and I examine an early argument about the (...) (im)possibility of epistemic logic (Hocutt). Subsequently, I deal with interpretive questions about epistemic logic that, although implicitly, already appeared in the first section. I contend that a conception of epistemic logic as a theory of knowledge assertions is incoherent, and I argue that it does not make sense to adopt a normative interpretation of epistemic logic. Finally, I show ways to extend epistemic logic with other branches of philosophical logic so as to make it useful for some epistemological questions. Conditional logics and logics of public announcement are used to understand causal theories of knowledge and versions of reliabilism. Temporal logic helps understand some dynamic aspects of knowledge as well as the verificationist thesis. (shrink)
Susan Hurley has argued against a well known argument for freedom of speech, the argument from autonomy, on the basis of two hypotheses about violence in the media and aggressive behaviour. The first hypothesis says that exposure to media violence causes aggressive behaviour; the second, that humans have an innate tendency to copy behaviour in ways that bypass conscious deliberation. I argue, first, that Hurley is not successful in setting aside the argument from autonomy. Second, I show that the empirical (...) data are irrelevant to statutory regulation of media violence. They do not yield a sufficiently strong correlation between exposure to media violence and non-autonomously copied criminal violence, and they do not yield a way ex ante to individuate the viewers who will be affected by media violence. (shrink)
Jacob Glazer and Ariel Rubinstein proffer an exciting new approach to analyze persuasion, using formal tools from economics to address questions that argumentation theorists, logicians, and cognitive and social psychologists have been interested in since Aristotle's Rhetoric. In this note I examine to what extent their approach is successful, and show ways to extend it.
The mathematical tools of game theory are frequently used in the social sciences and economic consultancy. But how do they explain social phenomena and support prescriptive judgments? And is the use of game theory really necessary? I analyze the logical form of explanatory and prescriptive game theoretical statements, and argue for two claims: (1) explanatory game theory can and should be reduced to rational choice theory in all cases; and (2) prescriptive game theory gives bad advice in some cases, is (...) reducible to rational choice theory in other cases, while it makes no sense in yet other cases. (shrink)
Several scholars have argued that Wittgenstein held the view that the notion of number is presupposed by the notion of one-one correlation, and that therefore Hume's principle is not a sound basis for a definition of number. I offer a new interpretation of the relevant fragments on philosophy of mathematics from Wittgenstein's Nachlass, showing that if different uses of ‘presupposition’ are understood in terms of de re and de dicto knowledge, Wittgenstein's argument against the Frege-Russell definition of number turns out (...) to be valid on its own terms, even though it depends on two epistemological principles logicist philosophers of mathematics may find too ‘constructivist’. (shrink)
In this paper I criticize Popper's conception of the rationality principle in the social sciences. First, I survey Popper's outlook on the role of a principle of rationality in theorizing in the social sciences. Then, I critically examine his view on the status of the principle of rationality concluding that the arguments supporting it are quite weak. Finally, I contrast his standpoint with an alternative conception. This, I show, helps us understand better Popper's reasons for adopting his perspective on rationality.
Game theory is the mathematical study of strategy and conflict. It has wide applications in economics, political science, sociology, and, to some extent, in philosophy. Where rational choice theory or decision theory is concerned with individual agents facing games against nature, game theory deals with games in which all players have preference orderings over the possible outcomes of the game. This paper gives an informal introduction to the theory and a survey of applications in diverse branches of philosophy. No criticism (...) is reviewed. Game theory is shown at work in discussions about epistemological dependence (prisoner’s dilemma), liberalism and efficiency (Nash equilibrium), Hume’s concept of convention (correlated equilibrium), morality and rationality (bargaining games), and distributive justice and egalitarianism (evolutionary game theory). A guide to the literature provides hints at applications in collective intentionality, epistemology, ethics, history of philosophy, logic, philosophy of language, and political philosophy. (shrink)