Classical Game Theory, Socialization and the Rationalization of Conventions

Topoi 27 (1-2):57-72 (2008)
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The paper begins by providing a game-theoretic reconstruction of Gilbert’s (1989) philosophical critique of Lewis (1969) on the role of salience in selecting conventions. Gilbert’s insight is reformulated thus: Nash equilibrium is insufficiently powerful as a solution concept to rationalize conventions for unboundedly rational agents if conventions are solutions to the kinds of games Lewis supposes. Both refinements to NE and appeals to bounded rationality can plug this gap, but lack generality. As Binmore (this issue) argues, evolutive game theory readily explains the origin of conventional behavior, but that is not Lewis’s project. Gilbert’s critique is generalized by reference to Bacharach’s (2006) work on team reasoning in games. The paper then argues that although Lewis’s account of the rationalization of conventions is shown by the reconstruction of Gilbert’s critique to be incomplete, Gilbert is wrong to conclude that classical (‘eductive’) game theory lacks the resources to explain conformity to conventions among people. A game-theoretic account of the dynamics of socialization, based on Ross’s (2005, 2006) idea of ‘game determination’, rationalizes choices of conventional strategies in overlapping generations contexts, provided agents are products of evolutionary selection and know that other players are also such products



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Citations of this work

Game theory.Don Ross - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Explaining Institutional Change.N. Emrah Aydinonat & Petri Ylikoski - forthcoming - In Harold Kincaid & Jeroen Van Bouwel (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Political Science. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 120-138.
A strawson–lewis defence of social preferences.Jelle de Boer - 2012 - Economics and Philosophy 28 (3):291-310.

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References found in this work

Convention: A Philosophical Study.David Kellogg Lewis - 1969 - Cambridge, MA, USA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Morals by Agreement.David P. Gauthier - 1986 - Oxford University Press.
Every Thing Must Go: Metaphysics Naturalized.James Ladyman & Don Ross - 2007 - In James Ladyman, Don Ross, David Spurrett & John Collier (eds.), Every Thing Must Go: Metaphysics Naturalized. Oxford University Press.

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