Game Theory of Convention site
Welcome to the Game Theory of Convention site. This site functions as a resource for scholars, like I, interested in the game theory of convention. While working on my Ph.D. I have come to realize that the interdisciplinarity of the flourishing field of the game theory of convention has rendered it homeless. Nowhere is there to be found a comprehensive overview of the vast literature, advice on how to get started on this, the theory's development, and the current problems it faces. The resource pages aims to correct this problem. Also, this part of the site relies heavily on interaction. I ask you to participate with any comments and advice you deem as relevant, and in return offer to give short advice on any relevant matter if you send me an e-mail. Also, you may want to join the network so as to assist with such advice to the extent you find possible.
New!!! Join our Facebook group "Game theory and convention"; a network for scholars as well as students. This is where you get the chance to engage in close discussion and interaction with people who are genuinly interested in the subject. Make a facebook profile; search for "Game theory and convention"; apply for membership in the group.
Brief introduction to the game theory of convention
The specific notion of a 'game theory of convention' is perhaps not particularly precise and derseves a comment from the beginning. It comprises the idea of applying the tools of game theoretic analysis to the theory of convention, the latter of which received its first comprehensive formulation in David Hume's theory of justice found in his Treatise of Human Nature (1740). Thus it is not a theory as such, but rather a distinctive methodological approach utilized in analyzing and exploring the consistency and implications of a theory.
The first extensive application of the theory of games to the theory of convention was undertaken by David Lewis in his Convention: A Philosophical Study (1969). This took conventions as behavioural regularities satisfying some special conditions and instantiating what he called proper coordination equilibria, i.e. one out of multiple combinations of actions from which all agents would be worse off if any one were to deviate. The standard example of such a regularity is the rule of the road. All agents in a community coordinating by driving on the right would be worse of if any one were to drive on the left. Yet if everyone were to drive on the left, this would be just as good a solution for coordinating and one the deviation from which would render everyone worse off.
One may reasonably ask what valuable insights of the theory of games like this may generate. In the case of Lewis' analysis of convention the insight generated was that of making explicit and problematize the intricate, but strained relationship between individual expectations, reasons for action, and rationality involved in many of those behavioural regularities making up the anatomy of social systems. Other prominent examples of valuable insights resulting from game theoretic analysis are insights into how particular conditions such as repeated and local interaction make cooperation and the production of collective goods possible in situations where short term individual interests threaten to undermine collective interests and how social conventions may arise between self-interested agents, while leaving parties worse of in general when compared to the pre-conventional state.
Readings on Convention »
This working report contains to my knowledge the most compre-hensive bibliography on readings in convention. Please look it through, and send me the references if you feel that anything is missing.