Climate stresses and monetary resources seem to lead to different collective adaptations. However, the reference to adaptation and to ambiguous collective dimensions appears premature; populations may entertain nothing more than shared adaptiveness. At this point, the intricacy of the underlying evolutionary processes (cultural selection, fitness-utility decoupling) very much obscures any diagnosis based on correlations.
There has been a significant interest in the recent literature in developing a solution to the problem of theory choice which is both normative and descriptive, but agent-based rather than rule-based, originating from Pierre Duhem’s notion of ‘good sense’. In this paper we present the properties Duhem attributes to good sense in different contexts, before examining its current reconstructions advanced in the literature and their limitations. We propose an alternative account of good sense, seen as promoting social consensus in science, (...) and show that it is superior to its rivals in two respects: it is more faithful to Duhemian good sense, and it cashes out the effect that virtues have on scientific progress. We then defend the social consensus account against objections that highlight the positive role of diversity and division of labour in science. (shrink)
Coen offers a unified explanation of natural selection, development, learning and cultural change, based on seven fundamental principles: population variation, persistence, reinforcement, competition, cooperation, combinatorial richness and recurrence. I discuss whether all seven principles are justified, successfully fit the four processes, encompass life processes only, and have any strong explanatory import. I find each of these claims doubtful.
Over the last three decades, joint action has received various definitions, which for all their differences share many features. However, they cannot fit some perplexing cases of weak joint action, such as demonstrations, where agents rely on distinct epistemic sources, and as a result, have no first-hand knowledge about each other. I argue that one major reason why the definition of such collective actions is akin to the classical ones is that it crucially relies on the concept of common knowledge. (...) To this end, I first argue for the necessity of common knowledge for joint action in general due to the increased reliability of success it entails. I then defend the relevance of common knowledge against several criticisms, point at an adequate weakening, and discuss alternative approaches. Although structurally weaker, the common knowledge has a richer content in weak joint actions. As a result, even if the links between individuals are seriously stretched, much is still shared among them. Weak joint actions still require considerable cognitive abilities indeed. (shrink)
Recent years have witnessed an increased number of game-theoretic approaches to social norms, which apparently share some common vocabulary and methods. We describe three major approaches of this kind (due to Binmore, Bicchieri and Gintis), before comparing them systematically on five crucial themes: generality of the solution, preference transformation, punishment, epistemic conditions and type of explanation. This allows us to show that these theories are, by and large, less compatible than they seem. We then argue that those three theories struggle (...) to account for three phenomena pertaining to social norms (namely context-dependence, conflicting norms and self-evidence), with which any complete game-theoretic account should in principle be able to deal. (shrink)
We consider the question: under what circumstances can the concept of adaptation be applied to groups, rather than individuals? Gardner and Grafen (2009, J. Evol. Biol.22: 659–671) develop a novel approach to this question, building on Grafen's ‘formal Darwinism’ project, which defines adaptation in terms of links between evolutionary dynamics and optimization. They conclude that only clonal groups, and to a lesser extent groups in which reproductive competition is repressed, can be considered as adaptive units. We re-examine the conditions under (...) which the selection–optimization links hold at the group level. We focus on an important distinction between two ways of understanding the links, which have different implications regarding group adaptationism. We show how the formal Darwinism approach can be reconciled with G.C. Williams’ famous analysis of group adaptation, and we consider the relationships between group adaptation, the Price equation approach to multi-level selection, and the alternative approach based on contextual analysis. (shrink)
Most definitions of cooperation provide sufficient but not necessary conditions. This paper describes a form of minimal cooperation, corresponding to mass actions implying many agents, such as demonstrations. It characterizes its intentional, epistemic, strategic, and teleological aspects, mostly obtained from weakening classical concepts. The rationality of minimal cooperation turns out to be part of its definition, whereas it is usually considered as an optional though desirable feature. Game-theoretic concepts thus play an important role in its definition. The paper concludes by (...) answering concrete questions about what should and should not be called cooperation. (shrink)
Defined and formalized several decades ago, widely used in philosophy and game theory, the concept of common knowledge is still considered as problematic, although not always for the right reasons. I suggest that the epistemic status of a group of human agents in a state of common knowledge has not been thoroughly analyzed. In particular, every existing account of common knowledge, whether formal or not, is either too strong to fit cognitively limited individuals, or too weak to adequately describe their (...) state. I provide a realistic definition of common knowledge, based on a formalization of David Lewisâ€™ seminal account and show that it is formally equivalent to probabilistic common belief. This leads to a philosophical analysis of common knowledge which answers several common criticisms and sheds light on its nature. (shrink)
In his 'Cooperation as joint action', Tuomela presents a we-mode account of cooperation, which he argues has several advantages over an individual account. This commentary examines to what extent this is true. In particular, I assess three related characteristics of we-mode joint action: its possible rationality, its greater efficiency, and its alleged irreducibility to purely individual properties, which are recurring points of the article.
La plupart des nombreuses définitions existantes d’une action coopérative en fournissent des conditions suffisantes plutôt que nécessaires. Nous définissons ici une forme minimale de coopération, correspondant aux actions de masse, telles des manifestations. Nous en détaillons les aspects intentionnel, épistémique, stratégique et téléologique, généralement obtenus par affaiblissement spécifique de concepts classiques. Parallèlement, nous soulignons le rôle crucial de concepts issus de la théorie des jeux pour la définition d’une action coopérative. Enfin, nous soutenons que la rationalité d’une action coopérative minimale (...) est cruciale à sa réalisation et pas seulement possible ou souhaitable comme le soutiennent les analyses habituelles. (shrink)