The use of evolutionary game theory to explain the evolution of human norms and the behavior of humans who act according to those norms is widespread. Both the aims and motivation for its use are clearly articulated by Harms and Skyrms (2008) in the following passage: "A good theory of evolution of norms might start by explaining the evolution of altruism in Prisoner’s Dilemma, of Stag Hunting, and of the equal split in the symmetric bargaining game. These are not well-explained (...) by classical game theory based on rational choice. From a technical point of view, they present different theoretical challenges. In the bargaining game, there are an infinite number of equilibria with no principled (rational choice) way to select the cooperative one. In Stag Hunt there are only two, but the non-cooperative one is selected by risk-dominance. In Prisoner’s Dilemma the state of mutual cooperation is not a Nash equilibrium at all, and cooperation flies in the face of the rational-choice principle that one does not choose less rather than more. In contrast to rational choice theory, the most common tool of evolutionary game theory is the replicator dynamics, in which the propagation rate of each strategy is determined by its current payoffs. These dynamics have a rationale in both biological and cultural evolutionary modeling, and sometimes tell us things that rational choice theory does not." We agree with the first sentence in this quotation: a good theory about the behavior under norms ought to explain altruism in the Prisoner’s Dilemma (PD), playing Stag in Stag Hunt (SH), and offering equal splits in the symmetric Nash bargaining game (NB). We also agree with Harms and Skyrms about the difference in technical challenges each of these games poses. Finding a single mechanism, even one as broadly understood as evolution, that could solve these challenges en masse is no doubt a tall order. Nonetheless, in this paper, we present a single, simple, modification to SH, NB, and a general n-player PD that does just that: we introduce deontological autonomy into the models. (shrink)
The paper is an addition to the intensionalist approach to decision theory, with emphasis on game theoretic modelling. Extensionality in games is an a priori requirement that players exhibit the same behavior in all algebraically equivalent games on pain of irrationality. Intensionalism denies that it is always irrational to play differently in differently represented but algebraically equivalent versions of a game. I offer a framework to integrate game non-extensionality with the more familiar idea of linguistic non-extensionality from philosophy of language, (...) followed by applications of it based on toy examples of well-known game models. I argue that the notion of what I call “Intensional Nash Equilibrium” is, in effect, very useful in understanding human decision-making. (shrink)
Since Gintis is a senior economist and I have read some of his previous books with interest, I was expecting some more insights into behavior. Sadly, he makes the dead hands of group selection and phenomenology into the centerpieces of his theories of behavior, and this largely invalidates the work. Worse, since he shows such bad judgement here, it calls into question all his previous work. The attempt to resurrect group selection by his friends at Harvard, Nowak and Wilson, a (...) few years ago was one of the major scandals in biology in the last decade, and I have recounted the sad story in my article ‘Altruism, Jesus and the End of the World—how the Templeton Foundation bought a Harvard Professorship and attacked Evolution, Rationality and Civilization -- A review of E.O. Wilson 'The Social Conquest of Earth' (2012) and Nowak and Highfield ‘SuperCooperators’ (2012).’ Unlike Nowak, Gintis does not seem to be motivated by religious fanaticism, but by the strong desire to generate an alternative to the grim realities of human nature, made easy by the (near universal) lack of understanding of basic human biology and blank slateism of behavioral scientists, other academics, and the general public. -/- Gintis rightly attacks (as he has many times before) economists, sociologists and other behavioral scientists for not having a coherent framework to describe behavior. Of course, the framework needed to understand behavior is an evolutionary one. Unfortunately, he fails to provide one himself (according to his many critics and I concur), and the attempt to graft the rotten corpse of group selection onto whatever economic and psychological theories he has generated in his decades of work, merely invalidates his entire project. -/- Although Gintis makes a valiant effort to understand and explain the genetics, like Wilson and Nowak, he is far from an expert, and like them, the math just blinds him to the biological impossibilities and of course this is the norm in science. As Wittgenstein famously noted on the first page of Culture and Value “There is no religious denomination in which the misuse of metaphysical expressions has been responsible for so much sin as it has in mathematics.” -/- It has always been crystal clear that a gene that causes behavior which decreases its own frequency cannot persist, but this is the core of the notion of group selection. Furthermore, it has been well known and often demonstrated that group selection just reduces to inclusive fitness (kin selection), which, as Dawkins has noted, is just another name for evolution by natural selection. Like Wilson, Gintis has worked in this arena for about 50 years and still has not grasped it, but after the scandal broke, it took me only 3 days to find, read and understand the most relevant professional work, as detailed in my article. It is mind boggling to realize that Gintis and Wilson were unable to accomplish this in nearly half a century. -/- I discuss the errors of group selection and phenomenology that are the norm in academia as special cases of the near universal failure to understand human nature that are destroying America and the world. -/- Those wishing a comprehensive up to date framework for human behavior from the modern two systems view may consult my book ‘The Logical Structure of Philosophy, Psychology, Mind and Language in Ludwig Wittgenstein and John Searle’ 2nd ed (2019). Those interested in more of my writings may see ‘Talking Monkeys--Philosophy, Psychology, Science, Religion and Politics on a Doomed Planet--Articles and Reviews 2006-2019 3rd ed (2019), The Logical Structure of Human Behavior (2019), and Suicidal Utopian Delusions in the 21st Century 4th ed (2019) . (shrink)
We conceive of a player in dynamic games as a set of agents, which are assigned the distinct tasks of reasoning and node-specific choices. The notion of agent connectedness measuring the sequential stability of a player over time is then modeled in an extended type-based epistemic framework. Moreover, we provide an epistemic foundation for backward induction in terms of agent connectedness. Besides, it is argued that the epistemic independence assumption underlying backward induction is stronger than usually presumed.
The Puzzle of the Hats is a betting arrangement which seems to show that a Dutch book can be made against a group of rational players with common priors who act in the common interest and have full trust in the other players’ rationality. But we show that appearances are misleading—no such Dutch book can be made. There are four morals. First, what can be learned from the puzzle is that there is a class of situations in which credences and (...) betting rates diverge. Second, there is an analogy between ways of dealing with situations of this kind and different policies for sequential choice. Third, there is an analogy with strategic voting, showing that the common interest is not always served by expressing how things seem to you in social decision-making. And fourth, our analysis of the Puzzle of the Hats casts light on a recent controversy about the Dutch book argument for the Sleeping Beauty. (shrink)
The standard argument for the claim that rational preferences are transitive is the pragmatic money-pump argument. However, a money-pump only exploits agents with cyclic strict preferences. In order to pump agents who violate transitivity but without a cycle of strict preferences, one needs to somehow induce such a cycle. Methods for inducing cycles of strict preferences from non-cyclic violations of transitivity have been proposed in the literature, based either on offering the agent small monetary transaction premiums or on multi-dimensional preferences. (...) This paper argues that previous proposals have been flawed and presents a new approach based on the dominance principle. (shrink)
The Puzzle of the Hats is a betting arrangement which seems to show that a Dutch book can be made against a group of rational players with common priors who act in the common interest and have full trust in the other players’ rationality. But we show that appearances are misleading—no such Dutch book can be made. There are four morals. First, what can be learned from the puzzle is that there is a class of situations in which credences and (...) betting rates diverge. Second, there is an analogy between ways of dealing with situations of this kind and different policies for sequential choice. Third, there is an analogy with strategic voting, showing that the common interest is not always served by expressing how things seem to you in social decision-making. (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)
We consider strategic-form games with ordinal payoffs and provide a syntactic analysis of common belief/knowledge of rationality, which we define axiomatically. Two axioms are considered. The first says that a player is irrational if she chooses a particular strategy while believing that another strategy is better. We show that common belief of this weak notion of rationality characterizes the iterated deletion of pure strategies that are strictly dominated by pure strategies. The second axiom says that a player is irrational if (...) she chooses a particular strategy while believing that a different strategy is at least as good and she considers it possible that this alternative strategy is actually better than the chosen one. We show that common knowledge of this stronger notion of rationality characterizes the restriction to pure strategies of the iterated deletion procedure introduced by Stalnaker (1994). Frame characterization results are also provided. (shrink)
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)
Wlodek Rabinowicz suggested in an e-mail conversation (2001) to me that one might be able to use a particular Hats Puzzle to make a Dutch Book against a group of individually rational persons. I present a fanciful story here that has the same structure as Rabinowicz’s Dutch Book. For a more academic version of the same idea, see Luc Bovens and Wlodek Rabinowicz 2010 "The Puzzle of the Hats" Luc Bovens & Wlodek Rabinowicz *Synthese* 172 (1):57-78.
Many weaknesses of game theory are cured by new models that embody simple cognitive principles, while maintaining the formalism and generality that makes game theory useful. Social preference models can generate team reasoning by combining reciprocation and correlated equilibrium. Models of limited iterated thinking explain data better than equilibrium models do; and they self-repair problems of implausibility and multiplicity of equilibria.
In this paper we deal with the extension of Nash bargaining theory to nonconvex problems. By focussing on the Social Welfare Ordering associated with a bargaining solution, we characterize the symmetric Nash Bargaining Solution (NBS). Moreover, we obtain a unified method of proof of recent characterization results for the asymmetric single-valued NBS and the symmetric multivalued NBS, as well as their extensions to different domains.
The standard backward-induction reasoning in a game like the centipede assumes that the players maintain a common belief in rationality throughout the game. But that is a dubious assumption. Suppose the first player X didn't terminate the game in the first round; what would the second player Y think then? Since the backwards-induction argument says X should terminate the game, and it is supposed to be a sound argument, Y might be entitled to doubt X's rationality. Alternatively, Y might doubt (...) that X believes Y is rational, or that X believes Y believes X is rational, or Y might have some higher-order doubt. X’s deviant first move might cause a breakdown in common belief in rationality, therefore. Once that goes, the entire argument fails. The argument also assumes that the players act rationally at each stage of the game, even if this stage could not be reached by rational play. But it is also dubious to assume that past irrationality never exerts a corrupting influence on present play. However, the backwards-induction argument can be reconstructed for the centipede game on a more secure basis.1 It may be implausible to assume a common belief in rationality throughout the game, however the game might go, but the argument requires less than this. The standard idealisations in game theory certainly allow us to assume a common belief in rationality at the beginning of the game. They also allow us to assume this common belief persists so long as no one makes an irrational move. That is enough for the argument to go through. (shrink)
This collection of papers in epistemic logic is oriented towards applications to game theory and individual decision theory. Most of these papers were presented at the inaugural conference of the LOFT (Logic for the Theory and Games and Decisions) conference series, which took place in 1994 in Marseille. Among the notions dealt with are those of common knowledge and common belief, infinite hierarchies of beliefs and belief spaces, logical omniscience, positive and negative introspection, backward induction and rationalizable equilibria in game (...) theory. (shrink)
In its classical conception, game theory aspires to be a determinate decision theory for games, understood as elements of a structurally specified domain. Its aim is to determine for each game in the domain a complete solution to each player's decision problem, a solution valid for all real-world instantiations, regardless of context. "Permissiveness" would constrain the theory to designate as admissible for a player any conjecture consistent with the function's designation of admissible strategies for the other players. Given permissiveness and (...) other appropriate constraints, solution sets must contain only Nash equilibria and at least one pure-strategy equilibrium, and there is no solution to games in which no symmetry invariant set of pure-strategy equilibria forms a Cartesian product. These results imply that the classical program is unrealizable. Moreover, the program is implicitly committed to permissiveness, through its common-knowledge assumptions and its commitment to equilibrium. The resulting incoherence deeply undermines the classical conception in a way that consolidates a long series of contextualist criticisms. (shrink)
the voluntary actions of such beings cannot be covered by causal laws. Decision theorists, accepting the premise of this argument, appeal instead to noncausal laws predicated on principles of success—oriented action, and use these laws to produce substantive and testable predictions about large—scale human behavior. The primary directive of success-oriented action is maximization of some valuable quantity. Many economists and social scientists use the principles of decision theory to explain social and economic phenomena, while many political philosophers use them to (...) make recommendations on questions of.. (shrink)
Donald Green and Ian Shapiro argue that rational choice scholarship in political science is excessively theory?driven: too few of its theoretical insights have been subjected to serious empirical scrutiny and survived. But rational choice theorizing has the potential to identify and correct logical inconsistencies and slippages. It is thus valuable even if the resulting theories are not tested empirically. When Green and Shapiro's argument concerning collective dilemmas and free riding is formalized, it turns out to be deeply flawed and in (...) many respects outright false. Their mistake is common enough: they misclassify a variety of collective dilemmas as prisoner's dilemmas. Because they misunderstand the theory of rational choice, Green and Shapiro allege that it is refuted by empirical findings that, in fact, support it. (shrink)
An introduction to the special issue on epistemic logic and the foundations of game theory edited by Michael Bacharach and Philippe Mongin. Contributors are Michael Bacharach, Robert Stalnaker, Salvatore Modica and Aldo Rustichini, Luc Lismont and Philippe Mongin, and Hyun-Song Shin and Timothy Williamson.
The paper surveys the currently available axiomatizations of common belief (CB) and common knowledge (CK) by means of modal propositional logics. (Throughout, knowledge- whether individual or common- is defined as true belief.) Section 1 introduces the formal method of axiomatization followed by epistemic logicians, especially the syntax-semantics distinction, and the notion of a soundness and completeness theorem. Section 2 explains the syntactical concepts, while briefly discussing their motivations. Two standard semantic constructions, Kripke structures and neighbourhood structures, are introduced in Sections (...) 3 and 4, respectively. It is recalled that Aumann's partitional model of CK is a particular case of a definition in terms of Kripke structures. The paper also restates the well-known fact that Kripke structures can be regarded as particular cases of neighbourhood structures. Section 3 reviews the soundness and completeness theorems proved w.r.t. the former structures by Fagin, Halpern, Moses and Vardi, as well as related results by Lismont. Section 4 reviews the corresponding theorems derived w.r.t. the latter structures by Lismont and Mongin. A general conclusion of the paper is that the axiomatization of CB does not require as strong systems of individual belief as was originally thought- only monotonicity has thusfar proved indispensable. Section 5 explains another consequence of general relevance: despite the "infinitary" nature of CB, the axiom systems of this paper admit of effective decision procedures, i.e., they are decidable in the logician's sense. (shrink)
The game theoretic notion of best-response reasoning is sometimes criticized when its application produces multiple solutions of games, some of which seem less compelling than others. The recent development of the theory of team reasoning addresses this by suggesting that interacting players in games may sometimes reason as members of a team – a group of individuals who act together in the attainment of some common goal. A number of properties have been suggested for team-reasoning decision-makers’ goals to satisfy, but (...) a few formal representations have been discussed. In this paper we suggest a possible representation of these goals based on the notion of mutual advantage. We propose a method for measuring extents of individual and mutual advantage to the interacting decision-makers, and define team interests as the attainment of outcomes associated with maximum mutual advantage in the games they play. (shrink)
This paper suggests a theory of choice among strategic situations when the rules of play are not properly specified. We take the view that a "strategic situation" is adequately described by a TU game since it specifies what is feasible for each coalition but is silent on the procedures that are used to allocate the surplus. We model the choice problem facing a decision maker (DM) as having to choose from finitely many "actions". The known "consequence" of the ith action (...) is a coalition from game f_i over a fixed set of players (N_i union d) (where d stands for the DM). Axioms are imposed on her choice as the list of consequences (f_1,..., f_m) from the m actions varies. We characterize choice rules that are based on marginal contributions of the DM in general and on the Shapley Value in particular. (shrink)
This text is a non-technical overview of modern decision theory. It is intended for university students with no previous acquaintance with the subject, and was primarily written for the participants of a course on risk analysis at Uppsala University in 1994.