Analogues of the Liar Paradox in Systems of Epistemic Logic Representing Meta-Mathematical Reasoning and Strategic Rationality in Non-Cooperative Games

Dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles (1987)

Authors
Robert Charles Koons
University of Texas at Austin
Abstract
The ancient puzzle of the Liar was shown by Tarski to be a genuine paradox or antinomy. I show, analogously, that certain puzzles of contemporary game theory are genuinely paradoxical, i.e., certain very plausible principles of rationality, which are in fact presupposed by game theorists, are inconsistent as naively formulated. ;I use Godel theory to construct three versions of this new paradox, in which the role of 'true' in the Liar paradox is played, respectively, by 'provable', 'self-evident', and 'justifiable'. I also construct in modal operator logic a paradox involving reflexive empirical reasoning. Unlike the paradox of the Liar, the paradox of reflexive reasoning does not depend on self-reference. ;I consider various solutions to the Liar paradox and evaluate how well these solutions cope with the paradox of reflexive reasoning. I then formalize the solution to the paradoxes which I favor: the indexical-hierarchical approach, first sketched out by Charles Parsons and Tyler Burge. In this solution, occurrences of the predicate 'true' in sentence-tokens are contextually relativized to levels of a hierarchy. Drawing also on some brief remarks of Bertrand Russell and Charles Parsons, I develop an account of the kind of schematic generality needed for this theory to be statable. ;Finally, I demonstrate that the principles shown to be paradoxical are in fact presupposed by contemporary game theorists in their reliance on the notion of common knowledge or, more precisely, mutual belief. I create novel analyses of and corresponding solutions to several recalcitrant puzzles within game theory, including the "chain-store paradox"
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