Arising out of the author's lifetime fascination with the links between the formal language of mathematical models and natural language, this short book comprises five essays investigating both the economics of language and the language of economics. Ariel Rubinstein touches the structure imposed on binary relations in daily language, the evolutionary development of the meaning of words, game-theoretical considerations of pragmatics, the language of economic agents and the rhetoric of game theory. These short essays are full of challenging ideas (...) for social scientists that should help to encourage a fundamental rethinking of many of the underlying assumptions in economic theory and game theory. As a postscript two economists, Tilman Borgers and Bart Lipman, and a logician, Johan van Benthem offer comments. (shrink)
This book reads major philosophers from the Western philosophical canon and beyond for the spirituality implicit in their metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, and logic. Ernest Rubinstein revives for the modern reader the spiritual import of philosophy as an area of inquiry and study.
p. cm. — (Zeuthen lecture book series) Includes bibliographical references (p. ) and index. ISBN 0-262-18187-8 (hardcover : alk. paper). — ISBN 0-262-68100-5 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. Decision-making. 2. Economic man. 3. Game theory. 4. Rational expectations (Economic theory) I. Title. II. Series.
The paper is a discussion of the interpretation of game theory. Game theory is viewed as an abstract inquiry into the concepts used in social reasoning when dealing with situations of conflict and not as an attempt to predict behavior. The first half of the paper..
This paper is an examination of some modelling problems regarding imperfect recall within the model of extensive games. It is argued that, if the assumption of perfect recall is violated, care must be taken in interpreting the main elements of the model. Interpretations that are inconsequential under perfect recall have important implications in the analysis of games with imperfect recall.
We argue that in extensive decision problems (extensive games with a single player) with imperfect recall care must be taken in interpreting information sets and strategies. Alternative interpretations allow for different kinds of analysis. We address the following issues: 1. randomization at information sets; 2. consistent beliefs; 3. time consistency of optimal plans; 4. the multiselves approach to decision making. We illustrate our discussion through an example that we call the ‘‘paradox of the absentminded driver.’’ Journal of Economic Literature Classification (...) Numbers: C7, D0. 1997 Academic Press. (shrink)
What on earth are economic theorists like me trying to accomplish? This paper discusses four dilemmas encountered by an economic theorist: The dilemma of absurd conclusions: Should we abandon a model if it produces absurd conclusions or should we regard a model as a very limited set of assumptions that will inevitably fail in some contexts? The dilemma of responding to evidence: Should our models be judged according to experimental results? The dilemma of modelless regularities: Should models provide the hypothesis (...) for testing or are they simply exercises in logic that have no use in identifying regularities? The dilemma of relevance: Do we have the right to offer advice or to make statements that are intended to influence the real world? (shrink)
The ability to compare possibilities and designate some as ‘better’ than others is a fundamental aspect of our use of modals and propositional attitude verbs. This article aims to support a proposal by Sloman that certain modal expressions, in particular, ought, in fact have a more pronounced comparative backbone than others . The connection between ‘ought’ and ‘better’ is supported by linguistic data and a proposal is advanced for modeling ideals in a way that makes room for non-comparative, strong, priority-type (...) necessity. (shrink)
Lecture audiences and students were asked to respond to virtual decision and game situations at gametheory.tau.ac.il. Several thousand observations were collected and the response time for each answer was recorded. There were signiﬁcant differences in response time across responses. It is suggested that choices made instinctively, that is, on the basis of an emotional response, require less response time than choices that require the use of cognitive reasoning.
A survey was carried out among two groups of undergraduate economics students and four groups of students in mathematics, law, philosophy and business administration. The main survey question involved a conflict between profit maximisation and the welfare of the workers who would be fired to achieve it. Significant differences were found between the choices of the groups. The results were reinforced by a survey conducted among readers of an Israeli business newspaper and PhD students of Harvard. It is argued that (...) the overly mathematical methods used to teach economics encourage students to lean towards profit maximisation. (shrink)
Neuroeconomics is examined critically using data on the response times of subjects who were asked to express their preferences in the context of the Allais Paradox. Different patterns of choice are found among the fast and slow responders. This suggests that we try to identify types of economic agents by the time they take to make their choices. Nevertheless, it is argued that it is far from clear if and how neuroeconomics will change economics.
The standard economic choice model assumes that the decision maker chooses from sets of alternatives. In contrast, we analyze a choice model in which the decision maker encounters the alternatives in the form of a list. We present two axioms similar in nature to the classical axioms of choice from sets. We show that they characterize all the choice functions from lists that involve the choice of either the ﬁrst or the last optimal alternative in the list according to some (...) preference relation. We then relate choice functions from lists to the classical notions of choice correspondences and random choice functions. (shrink)
The determination of “who is a J” within a society is treated as an aggregation of the views of the members of the society regarding this question. Methods, similar to those used in Social Choice theory are applied to axiomatize three criteria for determining who is a J: 1) a J is whoever defines oneself to be a J. 2) a J is whoever a “dictator” determines is a J. 3) a J is whoever an “oligarchy” of individuals agrees is (...) a J. (shrink)
A speaker wishes to persuade a listener to take a certain action. The conditions under which the request is justiﬁed, from the listener’s point of view, depend on the state of the world, which is known only to the speaker. Each state is characterized by a set of statements from which the speaker chooses. A persuasion rule speciﬁes which statements the listener ﬁnds persuasive. We study persuasion rules that maximize the probability that the listener accepts the request if and only (...) if it is justiﬁed, given that the speaker maximizes the probability that his request is accepted. We prove that there always exists a persuasion rule involving no randomization and that all optimal persuasion rules are ex-post optimal. We relate our analysis to the ﬁeld of pragmatics. (shrink)
The paper springs from a position that economic theory is an abstract investigation of the concepts and considerations involved in real life economic decision making rather than a tool for predicting or describing real behavior. It is argued that when experimental economics is motivated by theory, it should not look to verify the predictions of theory but instead should focus on verifying that the considerations contained in the economic model are sound and in common use. It is argued that when (...) theory is motivated by experiments, the theorist should not be hasty in adopting new functional forms but should try to identify the basic psychological themes which are revealed exposed by the experiment. Finally, some critical comments on the methodology of experimental economics are presented. 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved. (shrink)
We develop a framework for modeling choice in the presence of framing effects. An extended choice function assigns a chosen element to every pair (A, f ) where A is a set of alternatives and f is a frame. A frame includes observable information that is irrelevant in the rational assessment of the alternatives, but nonetheless affects choice. We relate the new framework to the classical model of choice correspondence. Conditions are identified under which there exists either a transitive or (...) a transitive and complete binary relation R such that an alternative x is chosen in some (A, f ) iff x is R-maximal in the set A. We then demonstrate that the framework of choice correspondence misses information, which is essential to economic modeling and which is incorporated in the extended choice function. (shrink)
Scientists and science policy experts understandably wring their hands about the politicization of science and the failure of the general public to recognize good science from bad, good policy from bad. This concern is not new to the scientific community. But the frustration factor is exacerbated by the rising stakes of science illiteracy and politicization in a world in which science plays an increasingly integral part. That said, the usual reaction among the outraged is to scapegoat one or another societal (...) institution: the politicians, of course, but also the religious right, ignorant and underpaid teachers, school boards, journalists and so on. Lost in the passion of the moment is a notion that the community most capable of making a profound difference is "our community" - not by issuing diatribes against "the other culture" but by working to become an integral part of that culture just as science is now - be it in health care, environmental challenges, the response to terrorism and so on - an integral part of society. (shrink)
(2) Mental preferences: These describe the mental attitude of an individual toward the objects. They can be defined in contexts which do not involve actual choice. In particular, preferences can describe tastes (such as a preference for one season over another) or can refer to situations which are only hypothetical (such as the possible courses of action available to an individual were he to become Emperor of Rome) or which the individual does not fully control (such as a game situation (...) in which a player has preferences over the entire set of outcomes). (shrink)
Eye tracking is used to investigate human choice procedures. We infer from eye movement patterns in choice problems where the deliberation process is clear to deliberations in problems of choice between two lotteries. The results indicate that participants tend to compare prizes and probabilities separately. The data provide little support for the hypothesis that decision makers use an expected utility type of calculation exclusively. This is particularly true when the calculations involved in comparing the lotteries are complicated.
Resumert Este trabajo presenta varios modelos que destacan el contraste entre las teorias de la decision y de los juegos, por una parte, y la intuicidn y los datos empiricos y experimentales, por otra. Estos ejemplos estimulan la adopcion del punto de vista de la ra-.
A speaker wishes to persuade a listener to accept a certain request. The conditions under which the request is justified, from the listener’s point of view, depend on the values of two aspects. The values of the aspects are known only to the speaker and the listener can check the value of at most one. A mechanism specifies a set of messages that the speaker can send and a rule that determines the listener’s response, namely, which aspect he checks and (...) whether he accepts or rejects the speaker’s request. We study mechanisms that maximize the probability that the listener accepts the request when it is justified and rejects the request when it is unjustified, given that the speaker maximizes the probability that his request is accepted. We show that a simple optimal mechanism exists and can be found by solving a linear programming problem in which the set of constraints is derived from what we call the L-principle. (shrink)
For me, economics is a collection of ideas and conventions which economists accept and use to reason with. Namely, it is a culture. Behavioral economics represents a transformation of that culture. Nonetheless, as pointed out by Camerer and Loewenstein (2003), its methods are pretty much the same as those introduced by the Game Theory revolution. At the core of most models in Behavioral Economics there are still agents who maximize a preference relation over some space of consequences and the solution (...) in most cases still involves standard equilibrium concepts. However, the behavioral economists are not committed to what is usually referred to as rational motivations. An economic fable (or a model as we would call it) that has at its core fairness, envy, present-bias and the like is by now not only permitted but even preferred. (shrink)
from now on , was to point out that the model commonly used to describe . a decision problem with imperfect recall suffers from major ambiguities in its interpretation. We claimed that several issues which were immaterial in decision problems with perfect recall may be of importance in the analysis of decision problems with imperfect recall. The issues that we raised can be summarized by the following questions.
Ludwig Wittgenstein imagines a variety of eccentric social practices—like a tribe trained “to give no expression of feeling of any kind”. But he also speaks of “the common behavior of mankind” that is rooted in “natural/primitive reactions”. This emphasis on the uniformities of human behavior raises questions about the plausibility of some of his imagined language games. Indeed, it suggests the claim of evolutionary psychologists that there are biologically based human universals that shape social practices. But in contrast to E.O. (...) Wilson's belief that “genes hold culture on a leash”, Wittgenstein sees culture as a mediator—rather than a conduit—of “natural reactions”. This suggests that social science can incorporate the claims of evolutionary psychology without scanting the centrality of culture in action and allows that nature can be overwhelmed by culture. (shrink)
We suggest an equilibrium concept for a strategic model with a large number of players in which each player observes the actions of only a small number of the other players. The concept ﬁts well situations in which each player treats his sample as a prediction of the distribution of actions in the entire population, and responds optimally to this prediction. We apply the concept to a strategic voting model and investigate the conditions under which a centrist candidate can win (...) the popular vote although his strength in the population is smaller than the strengths of the right and left candidates. 2003 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. (shrink)
In the jungle, power and coercion govern the exchange of resources. We study a simple, stylised model of the jungle that mirrors an exchange economy. We define the notion of jungle equilibrium and demonstrate that a number of standard results of competitive markets hold in the jungle.
Let me start with what you should not do. Do not attend too many seminars in your own field. Otherwise you may simply end up adding a comment to the existing literature, which is mostly made up of comments on previous comments which were themselves only marginal comments. If you want a good idea, look at the world around you or take courses in other disciplines. Some of the papers in my own dissertation (like my 1979 paper on a principal-agent (...) problem with moral hazard and an infinite horizon) were thought of while daydreaming in some law courses I took. (shrink)
Colonel Blotto “secret files” are opened and Information about the way that people play the game is revealed. The files rely on web-based experiments, which involve a tournament version of the Colonel Blotto Game. A total of 6,500 subjects from two diverse populations participated in the tournaments. The results are analyzed in light of a novel procedure of multi-dimensional iterative reasoning. According to the procedure, a player decides separately about different features of his strategy using iterative reasoning. Measuring the response (...) time of the subjects assists in interpreting the reasoning procedure behind the choices. Common properties of the successful strategies in the tournament are exposed. Keywords: Colonel Blotto, Multi-dimensional iterative reasoning, Response Time.. (shrink)
A behavioral dataset contains various preference orderings displayed by the same individual in diﬀerent payoﬀ-irrelevant circumstances. We introduce a framework for eliciting the individual’s underlying preferences in such cases, in which it is conjectured that the variation in the observed preference orderings is the outcome of some cognitive process that distorts the underlying preferences. We then demonstrate for two cognitive processes how to elicit the individual’s underlying preferences from behavioral datasets.
A number of experts receive noisy signals regarding a desirable public decision. The public target is to make the best possible decision on the basis of all the information held by the experts. We compare two ``cultures.'' In one, all experts are driven only by the public motive to increase the probability that the desirable action will be taken. In the second, each expert is also driven by a private motive: to have his recommendation accepted. We show that in the (...) first culture, every mechanism will have an equilibrium which does not achieve the public target, whereas the second culture gives rise to a mechanism whose unique equilibrium outcome does achieve the public target. Journal of Economic Literature Classification Numbers: C72, D71. (shrink)