Game theoretic explanations and the evolution of justice

Philosophy of Science 65 (1):76-102 (1998)

Abstract

Game theoretic explanations of the evolution of human behavior have become increasingly widespread. At their best, they allow us to abstract from misleading particulars in order to better recognize and appreciate broad patterns in the phenomena of human social life. We discuss this explanatory strategy, contrasting it with the particularist methodology of contemporary evolutionary psychology. We introduce some guidelines for the assessment of evolutionary game theoretic explanations of human behavior: such explanations should be representative, robust, and flexible. Distinguishing these features sharply can help to clarify the import and accuracy of game theorists' claims about the robustness and stability of their explanatory schemes. Our central example is the work of Brian Skyrms, who offers a game theoretic account of the evolution of our sense of justice. Modeling the same Nash game as Skyrms, we show that, while Skyrms' account is robust with respect to certain kinds of variation, it fares less well in other respects.

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Author Profiles

Justin D'Arms
Ohio State University
Robert W. Batterman
University of Pittsburgh

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Vaulting Ambition.Philip Kitcher - 1988 - Noûs 22 (3):479-482.
Philosophy of Biology.Elliott Sober & Pénel Jean-Dominique - 1995 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 185 (3):382-383.

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