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  1. Self-Assembling Games.Jeffrey A. Barrett & Brian Skyrms - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (2):329-353.
    We consider how cue-reading, sensory-manipulation, and signaling games may initially evolve from ritualized decisions and how more complex games may evolve from simpler games by polymerization, template transfer, and modular composition. Modular composition is a process that combines simpler games into more complex games. Template transfer, a process by which a game is appropriated to a context other than the one in which it initially evolved, is one mechanism for modular composition. And polymerization is a particularly salient example of modular (...)
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  • David Lewis in the Lab: Experimental Results on the Emergence of Meaning.Justin Bruner, Cailin O’Connor, Hannah Rubin & Simon M. Huttegger - 2018 - Synthese 195 (2):603-621.
    In this paper we use an experimental approach to investigate how linguistic conventions can emerge in a society without explicit agreement. As a starting point we consider the signaling game introduced by Lewis. We find that in experimental settings, small groups can quickly develop conventions of signal meaning in these games. We also investigate versions of the game where the theoretical literature indicates that meaning will be less likely to arise—when there are more than two states for actors to transfer (...)
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  • Evolutionary Dynamics of Lewis Signaling Games: Signaling Systems Vs. Partial Pooling.Simon Huttegger, Brian Skyrms, Rory Smead & Kevin Zollman - 2010 - Synthese 172 (1):177-191.
    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.
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  • Plasticity and Language: An Example of the Baldwin Effect?Kevin J. S. Zollman & Rory Smead - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 147 (1):7-21.
    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 and evolution in the context of a simple language game. Additionally, we describe three distinct aspects of (...)
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  • The Evolution of Compositionality in Signaling Games.Michael Franke - 2016 - Journal of Logic, Language and Information 25 (3-4):355-377.
    Compositionality is a key design feature of human language: the meaning of complex expressions is, for the most part, systematically constructed from the meanings of its parts and their manner of composition. This paper demonstrates that rudimentary forms of compositional communicative behavior can emerge from a variant of reinforcement learning applied to signaling games. This helps explain how compositionality could have emerged gradually: if unsophisticated agents can evolve prevalent dispositions to communicate compositional-like, there is a direct evolutionary benefit for adaptations (...)
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  • The Flow of Information in Signaling Games.Brian Skyrms - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 147 (1):155 - 165.
    Both the quantity of information and the informational content of a signal are defined in the context of signaling games. Informational content is a generalization of standard philosophical notions of propositional content. It is shown how signals that initially carry no information may spontaneously acquire informational content by evolutionary or learning dynamics. It is shown how information can flow through signaling chains or signaling networks.
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  • Description and the Problem of Priors.Jeffrey A. Barrett - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (6):1343-1353.
    Belief-revision models of knowledge describe how to update one’s degrees of belief associated with hypotheses as one considers new evidence, but they typically do not say how probabilities become associated with meaningful hypotheses in the first place. Here we consider a variety of Skyrms–Lewis signaling game (Lewis in Convention. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1969; Skyrms in Signals evolution, learning, & information. Oxford University Press, New York, 2010) where simple descriptive language and predictive practice and associated basic expectations coevolve. Rather than (...)
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  • On the Coevolution of Basic Arithmetic Language and Knowledge.Jeffrey A. Barrett - 2013 - Erkenntnis 78 (5):1025-1036.
    Skyrms-Lewis sender-receiver games with invention allow one to model how a simple mathematical language might be invented and become meaningful as its use coevolves with the basic arithmetic competence of primitive mathematical inquirers. Such models provide sufficient conditions for the invention and evolution of a very basic sort of arithmetic language and practice, and, in doing so, provide insight into the nature of a correspondingly basic sort of mathematical knowledge in an evolutionary context. Given traditional philosophical reflections concerning the nature (...)
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  • The Evolution of Simple Rule-Following.Jeffrey A. Barrett - 2013 - Biological Theory 8 (2):142-150.
    We are concerned here with explaining how successful rule-following behavior might evolve and how an old evolved rule might come to be successfully used in a new context. Such rule-following behavior is illustrated in the transitive judgments of pinyon and scrub-jays (Bond et al., Anim Behav 65:479–487, 2003). We begin by considering how successful transitive rule-following behavior might evolve in the context of Skyrms–Lewis sender–receiver games (Lewis, Convention. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1969; Skyrms, Philos Sci 75:489–500, 2006). We then consider (...)
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  • On the Coevolution of Theory and Language and the Nature of Successful Inquiry.Jeffrey A. Barrett - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (S4):1-14.
    Insofar as empirical inquiry involves the coevolution of descriptive language and theoretical commitments, a satisfactory model of empirical knowledge should describe the coordinated evolution of both language and theory. But since we do not know what conceptual resources we might need to express our future theories or to provide our best future faithful descriptions of the world, we do not now know even what the space of future descriptive options might be. One strategy for addressing this shifting-resource problem is to (...)
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  • Probe and Adjust in Information Transfer Games.Simon M. Huttegger, Brian Skyrms & Kevin J. S. Zollman - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (S4):1-19.
    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 (...)
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  • The Evolution, Appropriation, and Composition of Rules.Jeffrey Barrett - 2018 - Synthese 195 (2):623-636.
    This paper concerns how rule-following behavior might evolve in the context of a variety of Skyrms–Lewis signaling game, how such rules might subsequently evolve to be used in new contexts, and how such appropriation allows for the composition of evolved rules. We will also consider how the composition of simpler rules to form more complex rules may be significantly more efficient than evolving the complex rules directly. And we will review an example of rule following by pinyon and scrub jays (...)
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  • Bidirectional Optimization From Reasoning and Learning in Games.Michael Franke & Gerhard Jäger - 2012 - Journal of Logic, Language and Information 21 (1):117-139.
    We reopen the investigation into the formal and conceptual relationship between bidirectional optimality theory (Blutner in J Semant 15(2):115–162, 1998 , J Semant 17(3):189–216, 2000 ) and game theory. Unlike a likeminded previous endeavor by Dekker and van Rooij (J Semant 17:217–242, 2000 ), we consider signaling games not strategic games, and seek to ground bidirectional optimization once in a model of rational step-by-step reasoning and once in a model of reinforcement learning. We give sufficient conditions for equivalence of bidirectional (...)
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  • On the Evolution of Truth.Jeffrey Barrett - 2016 - Erkenntnis 81 (6):1323-1332.
    This paper is concerned with how a simple metalanguage might coevolve with a simple descriptive base language in the context of interacting Skyrms–Lewis signaling games Lewis. We will first consider a metagame that evolves to track the successful and unsuccessful use of a coevolving base language, then we will consider a metagame that evolves a truth predicate for expressions in a coevolving base language. We will see how a metagame that tracks truth provides an endogenous way to break the symmetry (...)
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  • Emergence of Information Transfer by Inductive Learning.Simon M. Huttegger & Brian Skyrms - 2008 - Studia Logica 89 (2):237-256.
    We study a simple game theoretic model of information transfer which we consider to be a baseline model for capturing strategic aspects of epistemological questions. In particular, we focus on the question whether simple learning rules lead to an efficient transfer of information. We find that reinforcement learning, which is based exclusively on payoff experiences, is inadequate to generate efficient networks of information transfer. Fictitious play, the game theoretic counterpart to Carnapian inductive logic and a more sophisticated kind of learning, (...)
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  • Faithful Description and the Incommensurability of Evolved Languages.Jeffrey A. Barrett - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 147 (1):123 - 137.
    Skyrms-Lewis signaling games illustrate how meaningful language may evolve from initially meaningless random signals (Lewis, Convention 1969; Skyrms 2008). Here we will consider how incommensurable languages might evolve in the context of signaling games. We will also consider the types of incommensurability exhibited between evolved languages in such games. We will find that sequentially evolved languages may be strongly incommensurable while still allowing for increasingly faithful descriptions of the world.
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