Language is an imperfect and coarse means of communicating information about a complex and nuanced world. We report on an experiment designed to capture this feature of communication. The messages available to the sender imperfectly describe the state of the world; however, the sender can improve communication, at a cost, by increasing the complexity or elaborateness of the message. Here the sender learns the state of the world, then sends a message to the receiver. The receiver observes the message and (...) provides a best guess about the state. The incentives of the players are aligned in the sense that both sender and receiver are paid an amount which is increasing in the accuracy of the receiver’s guess. We find that the size of the language endogenously emerges as a function of the costs of communication. Specifically, we find that higher communication costs are associated with a smaller language. Although the equilibrium predictions do not perform well, this divergence occurs in a manner which is consistent with the experimental communication literature: overcommunication. We find that the sender’s payoffs, relative to equilibrium payoffs, are decreasing in the cost of communication. We also find that the receiver’s payoffs, relative to equilibrium payoffs, are increasing in the cost of communication. Finally, we find imperfections in coordination on the basis of the experimental labels. (shrink)
We model an interaction between an informed sender and an uninformed receiver. As in the classic cheap talk setup, the informed player sends a message to an uninformed receiver who is to take an action which affects the payoffs of both players. However, in our model, the sender can communicate only through the use of discrete messages which are ordered by the cost incurred by the sender. We characterize the resulting equilibria without refining out-of-equilibrium beliefs. Subsequently, we apply an adapted (...) version of the no incentive to separate (NITS) condition to our model. We show that if the sender and receiver have aligned preferences regarding the action of the receiver, then NITS only admits the equilibrium with the largest possible number of induced actions. When the preferences between players are not aligned, we show that NITS does not guarantee uniqueness, and we provide an example where an increase in communication costs can improve communication. As we show, this improvement can occur to such an extent that the equilibrium outperforms the Goltsman et al. (J Econ Theory 144:1397–1420, 2009) upper bound for receiver’s payoffs in mediated communication. (shrink)
This article argues that Durkheim’s founding insight – uniquely social phenomena – presents us with both a foundation for the discipline of sociology and the risk that the discipline will become isolated. This, we argue, has happened. Our contention is that the emergent social phenomena need to be understood in relation to, but not reduced to, their biological and psychological substrates. Similarly, there are a number of other characteristics, notably of self-organization, which are distinguishing properties of social phenomena but also (...) of quite different phenomena. The comparison is instructive. We therefore argue for an ecological approach to sociological theory, which has important relationships to the general theories and philosophy of ecology and biology. We explore a number of terminological and conceptual parallels that may inform our understanding of the relation of social theory to these and other disciplines. (shrink)
We present evidence against the standard assumptions that social preferences are stable and can be measured in a reliable, nonintrusive manner. We find evidence that measures of social preferences can affect subsequent behavior. Researchers often measure social preferences by posing dictator type allocation decisions. The social value orientation (SVO) is a particular sequence of dictator decisions. We vary the order in which the SVO and a larger stakes dictator game are presented. We also vary the form of the dictator game. (...) In one study, we employ the standard dictator game, and in the other, we employ a nonstandard dictator game. With the standard dictator game, we find that prosocial subjects act even more prosocially when the SVO is administered first, whereas selfish subjects are unaffected by the order. With the nonstandard dictator game, we find evidence across all subjects that those who first receive the SVO are more generous in the dictator game but we do not find the effect among only the generous subjects. Across both dictator game forms, we find evidence that the subjects who are first given the SVO were more generous than subjects who are given the SVO last. We also find that this effect is stronger among the subjects with a perfectly consistent SVO measure. Although we cannot determine whether the order affects preferences or the measure of preferences, our results are incompatible with the assumptions that social preferences are stable and can be measured in a reliable, nonintrusive manner. (shrink)
The assurance of corporate sustainability reporting has long been a controversial field. Corporate management and assurance providers are routinely accused of 'capturing' what should be an exercise in public accountability. This article responds to recent calls for an analysis of the process by which Capture' takes place. Integrating elements of neo-institutional theory and the arena concept, the article sets out a fresh conceptual framework for investigating the dynamics of the interactions between the various bodies active in the assurance field in (...) the UK. (shrink)
Qualitative Complexity offers a critique of the humanist paradigm in contemporary social theory. Drawing from sources in sociology, philosophy, complexity theory, 'fuzzy logic', systems theory, cognitive science and evolutionary biology, the authors present a new series of interdisciplinary perspectives on the sociology of complex, self-organizing structures.
Josiah Royce’s late masterpiece, ’The Problem of Christianity’, is based on a series of lectures he delivered at Manchester College, Oxford, in 1913. It presents his philosophical interpretation of Christianity’s fundamental ideas--community, sin, atonement, and saving grace; shows their relevance to the current confluence of world religions; and grounds his position upon a personal transformation into genuine loyalty toward the community of the entire human family. (publisher, edited).
The use of informational terms is widespread in molecular and developmental biology. The usage dates back to Weismann. In both protein synthesis and in later development, genes are symbols, in that there is no necessary connection between their form (sequence) and their effects. The sequence of a gene has been determined, by past natural selection, because of the effects it produces. In biology, the use of informational terms implies intentionality, in that both the form of the signal, and the response (...) to it, have evolved by selection. Where an engineer sees design, a biologist sees natural selection. (shrink)
John E. Smith has contributed to contemporary philosophy in primarily four distinct capacities; first, as a philosopher of religion and God; second, as an indefatigable defender of philosophical reflection in its classical sense ( a sense inclusive of, but not limited to, metaphysics); third, as a participant in the reconstruction of experience and reason so boldly inaugurated by Hegel then redically transformed by the classical American pragmatists, and significantly augmented by such thinkers as Josiah Royce, william Earnest Hocking, and Alfred (...) North Whitehead; fourth, as an interpreter of philosophical texts and traditions (Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche no less than Charles Peirce, WIlliam James and John Dewey; German idealism as well as American; the Augustinian tradition no less than the pragmatic). Reason, Experience, and God provides an important and comprehensive look at the work of John E. Smith by collected essays which each address aspects of his life-long work. A response by John E. Smith himself draws a line of continuity between the pieces. (shrink)
A modern philosopher described religion as “that region in which all the enigmas of the world are solved.” Smith argues in Experience and God that religion itself has become an enigma for modern man. In the book, smith attempts to reunite philosophy with religion. He argues that in recent decades the prevailing attitude has been chiefly one of indifference. This indifference, leading to the failure of understanding can be overcome only through radical reflection and self-criticism: a re-consideration of the nature (...) of religion, its place in the total structure of human life, and its relations to the secular culture in which the faith of man must live. The task Smith lays out must be of a largely philosophical nature, not only because of the necessity to understand religion in relation to a comprehensive scheme of things, but also because the idea of religion is intimately connected with the issues of metaphysics. Smith’s purpose is to bridge the gap between the ontological approach to God as represented by Augustine, Anselm, and Bonaventure, and the cosmological approach represented by Thomas Aquinas and Albert the Great. Smith shows that, although the two approaches significantly differ, they can be interpreted as ways of leading the meditating mind to the Presence of God, through the soul and through the world. (shrink)
In these previously uncollected essays, Smith argues that American philosophers like Peirce, James, Royce, and Dewey have forged a unique philosophical tradition--one that is rich and complex enough to represent a genuine alternative to the analytic, phenomenological, and hermeneutical traditions which have originated in Britain or Europe. "In my judgment, John Smith has no equal today in combining two scholarly qualities: the analysis of philosophical texts with penetration and rigor, and the discernment of what it is in these texts that (...) matters. These qualities are in evidence throughout the essays in America's Philosophical Vision. Whether he is evaluating Rorty's view of Dewey the pragmatic theory of experience and truth theories of freedom, creativity, and the self Royce's conception of community or synoptic philosophic visions, Smith always succeeds in uniting a comprehensive understanding of philosophic writings with a sure grasp of their import for human culture and aspiration. It is a great benefit to students of American thought that these papers have now been collected into one volume."--James Gouinlock, Emory University. (shrink)
The new field of quantitative health risk assessment owes its emergence much more to the 'market pull' of demand from societal decision-making processes than to dramatic advances in our ability to make the desired predictions. This paper discusses problems and opportunities in the current practice of quantitative risk estimation under three broad headings: Basic (Technical) Assessment Methodology, and Methods for Assessing Uncertainty; Conception of the Problem for Analysis, and Ways of Expressing Results; and Defining Appropriate Roles for Expert Analysts in (...) Social Decision Processes. Finally, borrowing from work of McMullin, the paper offers some criteria for judging risk assessment theories other than the generally unavailable 'goodness-of-fit' procedures. (shrink)