PHIL858E     Epistemic Foundations of Game Theory
Semester:Spring 2014
Instructor: Eric Pacuit
Room:SKN 1116
Meeting Times:Mondays, 1:00pm - 3:30pm
Level:Graduate
 

 There are two main goals for this course.  The first is to provide a general introduction to game and decision theory with a  special focus on the growing body of literature surrounding the so-called  "epistemic" foundations of game theory.   Epistemic game theory aims at  formalizing  assumptions about knowledge, belief and rationality,  and then studies their behavioral implications in games.   The second goal  is to carefully examine the   assumptions that are built into any game-theoretic model of social interaction.     The second   is to carefully examine the   assumptions that are built into any game-theoretic model of social interaction.    One  standard assumption is  that there is common belief of rationality among all the relevant players.  A second, related, assumption  is adeptly summarized by Robert Aumann and Jacques Dreze in a recent article (Rational Expectations in Games,   American Economic Review, 98 (2008), pp. 72-86):    "the  fundamental insight of game theory [is] that a rational player must take into account that the players reason about each other in deciding how to play".  Exactly how the players (should) incorporate the fact that they are interacting with other (actively reasoning) agents into their own decision making process is the subject of much debate.  We will finish the course by discussing some broader issues  surrounding  the role that mathematical models play in the social sciences and the how to interpret a game-theoretic model.

Some previous exposure to game and decision theory will be helpful, but is not required (I will do my best to provide the necessary background in  game  and decision theory.   This will include a tutorial on the basic concepts of game and decision theory during the first lecture and additional  lectures on background material as needed during the semester).   This is an interdisciplinary topic, and so our readings will be taken from economics, logic, philosophy and cognitive science journals.