In recent years the social nature of scientific inquiry has generated considerable interest. We examine the effect of an epistemically impure agent on a community of honest truth seekers. Extending a formal model of network epistemology pioneered by Zollman, we conclude that an intransigently biased agent prevents the community from ever converging to the truth. We explore two solutions to this problem, including a novel procedure for endogenous network formation in which agents choose whom to trust. We contend that our (...) model nicely captures aspects of current problems in medical research and gesture at some morals for medical epistemology more generally. (shrink)
We identify a novel ‘cultural red king effect’ that, in many cases, results in stable arrangements which are to the detriment of minority groups. In particular, we show inequalities disadvantaging minority groups can naturally arise under an adaptive process when minority and majority members must routinely determine how to divide resources amongst themselves. We contend that these results show how inequalities disadvantaging minorities can likely arise by dint of their relative size and need not be a result of either explicit (...) nor implicit prejudices, nor due to intrinsic differences between minority and majority members. (shrink)
In their recent book, Oreskes and Conway describe the ‘tobacco strategy’, which was used by the tobacco industry to influence policymakers regarding the health risks of tobacco products. The strategy involved two parts, consisting of promoting and sharing independent research supporting the industry’s preferred position and funding additional research, but selectively publishing the results. We introduce a model of the tobacco strategy, and use it to argue that both prongs of the strategy can be extremely effective—even when policymakers rationally update (...) on all evidence available to them. As we elaborate, this model helps illustrate the conditions under which the tobacco strategy is particularly successful. In addition, we show how journalists engaged in ‘fair’ reporting can inadvertently mimic the effects of industry on public belief. 1Introduction2Epistemic Network Models3Selective Sharing4Biased Production5Journalists as Unwitting Propagandists6ConclusionAppendix. (shrink)
Social contract theorists often take the ideal contract to be the agreement or bargain individuals would make in some privileged choice situation. Recently, experimental philosophers have explored this kind of decision-making in the lab. One rather robust finding is that the exact circumstances of choice significantly affect the kinds of social arrangements experimental subjects unanimously endorse. Yet prior work has largely ignored the question of which of the many competing descriptions of the original position subjects find most compelling. This paper (...) aims to address this gap, exploring how attractive experimental subjects find various characterizations of these circumstances of choice. We find evidence suggesting that no one choice situation can fulfill the role that social contract theorists have hoped it would play. We also find that, contrary to what some prominent social contract theorists have expected, there is no robust relationship between an individual’s ranking of distributive principles and their ranking of various descriptions of the original position. In conclusion, we discuss the broader implications of these results for political philosophy. (shrink)
Intersectionality theory explores the special sorts of disadvantage that arise as the result of occupying multiple disadvantaged demographic categories. One significant methodological problem for the quantitative study of intersectionality is the difficulty of acquiring data sets large enough to produce significant results when one is looking for intersectional effects. For this reason, we argue, simulation methods may be particularly useful to this branch of theorizing because they can generate precise predictions and causal dependencies in a relatively cheap way, and can (...) thus guide future empirical work. We illustrate this point through models which show that intersectional oppression can arise under conditions where social groups are disadvantaged in the emergence of bargaining norms. As we show, intersectional disadvantage can arise even when actors from all social categories are completely identical in terms of preferences and abilities. The conditions necessary to derive such disadvantage are relatively minimal. And when actors behave in ways that reflect stronger intersectional identities, the potential for disadvantage increases. (shrink)
I examine how particular social arrangements and incentive structures encourage the honest reporting of experimental results and minimize fraudulent scientific work. In particular I investigate how epistemic communities can achieve this goal by promoting members to police the community. Using some basic tools from game theory, I explore a simple model in which scientists both conduct research and have the option of investigating the findings of their peers. I find that this system of peer policing can in many cases ensure (...) high levels of honesty. (shrink)
Recently, philosophers have drawn on tools from game theory to explore behavior in Hobbes’ state of nature. I take a similar approach and argue the Lockean state of nature is best conceived of as a conflictual coordination game. I also discuss Nozick’s famous claim regarding the emergence of the state and argue the path to the minimal state is blocked by a hitherto unnoticed free-rider problem. Finally, I argue that on my representation of the Lockean state of nature both widespread (...) conflict and lasting peace are possible. This, I contend, is in line with one popular interpretation of Locke. (shrink)
Peter Vanderschraaf’s Strategic Justice provides a defense of the egalitarian bargaining solution. Vanderschraaf’s discussion of the egalitarian solution invokes three arguments typically given to support the Nash bargaining solution. Overall, we reinforce Vanderschraaf’s criticism of arguments in favor of the Nash solution and point to potential weaknesses in Vanderschraaf’s positive case for the egalitarian solution.
Philosophers and social scientists have recently turned to game theory and agent-based models to better understand social contract formation. The stag hunt game is an idealization of social contract formation. Using the stag hunt game, we attempt to determine what, if any, barrier diversity is to the formation of an efficient social contract. We uncover a deep connection between tolerance, diversity, and the social contract. We investigate a simple model in which individuals possess salient traits and behave cooperatively when the (...) difference between their trait and the trait of their counterpart is less than their ‘tolerance level’. If traits are fixed and correspond to permanent or semipermanent features of the individual, such as religion or race, social contract formation is a remote possibility. If traits are malleable, social contract formation is possible but comes at the steep cost of diversity and tolerance, that is, individuals are unwilling to cooperate with those much different from themselves. Yet homogeneity and intolerance are not a long-term feature of the population. Over time mutations allow for increasingly tolerant agents to prosper, thereby ushering in trait diversity. In the end, all reap the benefits of cooperation. (shrink)
Inclusive fitness has been under intense scrutiny in recent years, with many critics claiming the framework leads to incorrect predictions. We consider one particularly influential heuristic for estimating inclusive fitness in the context of the very case that motivated reliance on it to begin with: the Sir Philip Sidney signalling game played with relatives. Using a neighbour-modulated fitness model, we show when and why this heuristic is problematic. We argue that reliance on the heuristic rests on a misunderstanding of what (...) it means for two organisms to be related and perpetuates a mischaracterization of the role of the ‘relatedness’ parameter in inclusive fitness. _1_ Introduction _2_ Heuristic Inclusive Fitness _3_ The Sir Philip Sidney Game _4_ Model _5_ Results _6_ Conclusion Appendix. (shrink)
Recently, philosophers have investigated the emergence and evolution of the social contract. Yet extant work is limited as it focuses on the use of simple behavioral norms in rather rigid strategic settings. Drawing on axiomatic bargaining theory, we explore the dynamics of more sophisticated norms capable of guiding behavior in a wide range of scenarios. Overall, our investigation suggests the utilitarian bargaining solution has a privileged status as it has certain stability properties other social arrangements lack.
The handicap principle is one of the most influential ideas in evolutionary biology. It asserts that when there is conflict of interest in a signaling interaction signals must be costly in order to be reliable. While in evolutionary biology it is a common practice to distinguish between indexes and fakable signals, we argue this dichotomy is an artifact of existing popular signaling models. Once this distinction is abandoned, we show one cannot adequately understand signaling behavior by focusing solely on cost. (...) Under our reframing, cost becomes one—and probably not the most important—of a collection of factors preventing deception. (shrink)
Evolutionary accounts of morality consider behavior in rather simple scenarios. Evolutionary work on fairness focuses on the division of a windfall and, importantly, assumes that the positions of those involved are entirely symmetric. I consider more complicated strategic settings and find that there is a strong tendency for evolution to produce divisions consistent with the so-called Nash bargaining solution. I also uncover the evolutionary importance of comprehensiveness, an often-overlooked feature of division problems.
The handicap principle stipulates that signal reliability can be maintained if signals are costly to produce. Yet empirical biologists are typically unable to directly measure evolutionary costs, and instead appeal to expenditure as a sensible proxy. However the link between expenditure and cost is not always as straightforward as proponents of HP assume. We consider signaling interactions where whether the expenditure associated with signaling is converted into an evolutionary cost is in some sense dependent on the behavior of the intended (...) recipient of the signal. We illustrate this with a few empirical examples and demonstrate that on this alternative expenditure to cost mapping the traditional predictions of HP no longer hold. Instead of full information transfer, a partially informative communication system like those uncovered by Wagner :163–181, 2013) and Zollman et al. is possible. (shrink)
One of the major puzzles in evolutionary theory is how communication and information transfer are possible when the interests of those involved conflict. Perfect information transfer seems inevitable if there are physical constraints, which limit the signal repertoire of an individual, effectively making bluffing an impossibility. This, I argue, is incorrect. Unfakeable signals by no means guarantee information transfer. I demonstrate the existence of a so-called pooling equilibrium and discuss why the traditional argument for perfect information transfer does not hold (...) in all cases. Additionally, I demonstrate that deception is possible at equilibrium despite the fact that signals are impossible to fake. (shrink)
I provide a novel argument in favour of majority rule. In particular, I consider the distribution of voter satisfaction in response to the outcome of a vote and prove that under certain conditions majority rule minimizes the level of inequality present in the distribution of voter satisfaction. This finding is reinforced by a computer simulation as well as an analysis of over four decades of polling data. Results complement existing procedural justifications of majority rule, demonstrating that majority rule ensures equality (...) at the level of both procedure and outcome. (shrink)
Cooperation in the prisoner’s dilemma is possible if interactions are sufficiently correlated. We show that when conditions favorable to the evolution of cooperation hold (rb > c) tag-based strategies dominate. Thus, well-meaning interventions aimed at promoting cooperation may succeed but will often lead to in-group favoritism and ethnocentric behavior. Exploring ways that promote cooperation but do not usher in tag-based strategies should be a focal point of future work on the evolution of cooperation.