Noûs 53 (2):491-510 (2019)

Terry Horgan
University of Arizona
Nathan Ballantyne
Fordham University
Two philosophical questions arise about rationality in centipede games that are logically prior to attempts to apply the formal tools of game theory to this topic. First, given that the players have common knowledge of mutual rationality and common knowledge that they are each motivated solely to maximize their own profits, is there a backwards-induction argument that employs only familiar non-technical concepts about rationality, leads to the conclusion that the first player is rationally obligated to end the game at the first step, is deductively valid, employs premises all of which are prima facie highly plausible, and is prima facie sound and )? Second, if there is such an argument, then is it actually sound, or is it instead defective somehow despite being prima facie sound? Addressing these two questions is our project. We present a backwards-induction argument that is prima facie sound; we argue that it is an instance of the notorious sorites paradox, and hence that the concepts of rational obligatoriness and rational permissibility are vague; and we briefly address the potential consequences of all this for the foundations of game theory and decision theory.
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DOI 10.1111/nous.12230
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References found in this work BETA

Blindspots.Michael Levin - 1991 - Noûs 25 (3):389-392.
Troubles for Bayesian Formal Epistemology.Terry Horgan - 2017 - Res Philosophica 94 (2):233-255.
Modeling Rational Players: Part I: Ken Binmore.Ken Binmore - 1987 - Economics and Philosophy 3 (2):179-214.
Robust Vagueness and the Forced-March Sorites Paradox.Terence Horgan - 1994 - Philosophical Perspectives 8:159-188.

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Superhard Choices.Miguel F. Dos Santos - 2020 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 98 (2):248-265.

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