Recent research into the evolution of higher cognition has piqued an interest in the eﬀect of natural selection on the ability of creatures to respond to their environment (behavioral plasticity). It is believed that environmental variation is required for plasticity to evolve in cases where the ability to be plastic is costly. We investigate one form of environmental variation: frequency dependent selection. Using tools in game theory, we investigate a few models of plasticity and outline the cases where selection would (...) be expected to maintain it. Ultimately we conclude that frequency dependent selection is likely insuﬃcient to maintain plasticity given reasonable assumptions about its costs. This result is very similar to one aspect of the well-discussed Baldwin eﬀect, where plasticity is ﬁrst selected for and then later selected against. We show how in these models one would expect plasticity to grow in the population and then be later reduced. Ultimately we conclude that if one is to account for the evolution of behavioral plasticity in this way, one must appeal to a very particular sort of external environmental variation. Keywords: Game theory, Evolutionarily stable strategy, Behavioral plasticity.. (shrink)
Lewis signaling games illustrate how language might evolve from random behavior. The probability of evolving an optimal signaling language is, in part, a function of what learning strategy the agents use. Here we investigate three learning strategies, each of which allows agents to forget old experience. In each case, we find that forgetting increases the probability of evolving an optimal language. It does this by making it less likely that past partial success will continue to reinforce suboptimal practice. The learning (...) strategies considered here show how forgetting past experience can promote learning in the context of games with suboptimal equilibria. (shrink)
We study a low-rationality learning dynamics called probe and adjust. Our emphasis is on its properties in games of information transfer such as the Lewis signaling game or the Bala-Goyal network game. These games fall into the class of weakly better reply games, in which, starting from any action profile, there is a weakly better reply path to a strict Nash equilibrium. We prove that probe and adjust will be close to strict Nash equilibria in this class of games with (...) arbitrarily high probability. In addition, we compare these asymptotic properties to short-run behavior. (shrink)
We evaluate the asymptotic performance of boundedly-rational strategies in multi-armed bandit problems, where performance is measured in terms of the tendency (in the limit) to play optimal actions in either (i) isolation or (ii) networks of other learners. We show that, for many strategies commonly employed in economics, psychology, and machine learning, performance in isolation and performance in networks are essentially unrelated. Our results suggest that the appropriateness of various, common boundedly-rational strategies depends crucially upon the social context (if any) (...) in which such strategies are to be employed. (shrink)
The Handicap Principle represents a central theory in the biological understanding of signaling. This paper presents a number of alternative theories to the Handicap Principle and argues that some of these theories may provide a better explanation for the evolution and stability of honest communication.
In the latter half of the twentieth century, philosophers of science have argued (implicitly and explicitly) that epistemically rational individuals might compose epistemically irrational groups and that, conversely, epistemically rational groups might be composed of epistemically irrational individuals. We call the conjunction of these two claims the Independence Thesis, as they together imply that methodological prescriptions for scientific communities and those for individual scientists might be logically independent of one another. We develop a formal model of scientific inquiry, define four (...) criteria for individual and group epistemic rationality, and then prove that the four definitions diverge, in the sense that individuals will be judged rational when groups are not and vice versa. We conclude by explaining implications of the inconsistency thesis for (i) descriptive history and sociology of science and (ii) normative prescriptions for scientific communities. (shrink)
Transfer of information between senders and receivers, of one kind or another, is essential to all life. David Lewis introduced a game theoretic model of the simplest case, where one sender and one receiver have pure common interest. How hard or easy is it for evolution to achieve information transfer in Lewis signaling?. The answers involve surprising subtleties. We discuss some if these in terms of evolutionary dynamics in both finite and infinite populations, with and without mutation.
There is growing interest in understanding and eliciting division of labor within groups of scientists. This paper illustrates the need for this division of labor through a historical example, and a formal model is presented to better analyze situations of this type. Analysis of this model reveals that a division of labor can be maintained in two different ways: by limiting information or by endowing the scientists with extreme beliefs. If both features are present however, cognitive diversity is maintained indefinitely, (...) and as a result agents fail to converge to the truth. Beyond the mechanisms for creating diversity suggested here, this shows that the real epistemic goal is not diversity but transient diversity. (shrink)
In recent years, many scholars have suggested that the Baldwin effect may play an important role in the evolution of language. However, the Baldwin effect is a multifaceted and controversial process and the assessment of its connection with language is difficult without a formal model. This paper provides a first step in this direction. We examine a game-theoretic model of the interaction between plasticity (represented by Herrnstein reinforcement learning) and evolution in the context of a simple language game. (...) Additionally, we describe three distinct aspects of the Baldwin effect: the Simpson–Baldwin effect, the Baldwin expediting effect and the Baldwin optimizing effect. We find that a simple model of the evolution of language lends theoretical plausibility to the existence of the Simpson–Baldwin and the Baldwin optimizing effects in this arena, but not the Baldwin expediting effect. (shrink)
Conformity is an often criticized feature of human belief formation. Although generally regarded as a negative influence on reliability, it has not been widely studied. This paper attempts to determine the epistemic effects of conformity by analyzing a mathematical model of this behavior. In addition to investigating the effect of conformity on the reliability of individuals and groups, this paper attempts to determine the optimal structure for conformity. That is, supposing that conformity is inevitable, what is the best way for (...) conformity effects to occur? The paper finds that in some contexts conformity effects are reliability inducing and, more surprisingly even when it is counterproductive, not all methods for reducing its effect are helpful. These conclusions contribute to a larger discussion in social epistemology regarding the effect of social behavior on individual reliability. (shrink)
Recent research into the evolution of higher cognition has piqued an interest in the effect of natural selection on the ability of creatures to respond to their environment (behavioral plasticity). It is believed that environmental variation is required for plasticity to evolve in cases where the ability to be plastic is costly. We investigate one form of environmental variation: frequency dependent selection. Using tools in game theory, we investigate a few models of plasticity and outline the cases where selection would (...) be expected to maintain it. Ultimately we conclude that frequency dependent selection is likely insuffcient to maintain plasticity given reasonable assumptions about its costs. This result is very similar to one aspect of the well-discussed Baldwin effect, where plasticity is first selected for and then later selected against. We show how in these models one would expect plasticity to grow in the population and then be later reduced. Ultimately we conclude that if one is to account for the evolution of behavioral plasticity in this way, one must appeal to a very particular sort of external environmental variation. (shrink)
Journals regulate a significant portion of the communication between scientists. This paper devises an agent-based model of scientific practice and uses it to compare various strategies for selecting publications by journals. Surprisingly, it appears that the best selection method for journals is to publish relatively few papers and to select those papers it publishes at random from the available “above threshold” papers it receives. This strategy is most effective at maintaining an appropriate type of diversity that is needed to solve (...) a particular type of scientific problem. This problem and the limitation of the model is discussed in detail. (shrink)
This article presents the evolutionary dynamics of three games: the Nash bargaining game, the ultimatum game, and a hybrid of the two. One might expect that the probability that some behavior evolves in an environment with two games would be near the probability that the same behavior evolves in either game alone. This is not the case for the ultimatum and Nash bargaining games. Fair behavior is more likely to evolve in a combined game than in either game taken individually. (...) This result confirms a conjecture that the complexity of our actual environment provides an explanation for the evolution of fair behavior. Key Words: evolutionary game theory Nash bargaining game ultimatum game fairness. (shrink)
Increasingly, epistemologists are becoming interested in social structures and their effect on epistemic enterprises, but little attention has been paid to the proper distribution of experimental results among scientists. This paper will analyze a model first suggested by two economists, which nicely captures one type of learning situation faced by scientists. The results of a computer simulation study of this model provide two interesting conclusions. First, in some contexts, a community of scientists is, as a whole, more reliable when its (...) members are less aware of their colleagues' experimental results. Second, there is a robust tradeoff between the reliability of a community and the speed with which it reaches a correct conclusion. ‡The author would like to thank Brian Skyrms, Kyle Stanford, Jeffrey Barrett, Bruce Glymour, and the participants in the Social Dynamics Seminar at University of California–Irvine for their helpful comments. Generous financial support was provided by the School of Social Science and Institute for Mathematical Behavioral Sciences at UCI. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, Baker Hall 135, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. (shrink)
In seeking to explain the evolution of social cooperation, many scholars are using increasingly complex game-theoretic models. These complexities often model readily observable features of human and animal populations. In the case of previous games analyzed in the literature, these modifications have had radical effects on the stability and efficiency properties of the models. We will analyze the effect of adding spatial structure to two communication games: the Lewis Sender-Receiver game and a modified Stag Hunt game. For the Stag Hunt, (...) we find that the results depart strikingly from previous models. In all cases, the departures increase the explanatory value of the models for social phenomena. (shrink)