Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-8bljj Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-06-16T18:41:08.907Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Games, Norms, and Utterances

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 May 2024

Abstract

A body of work proposes that social-norm change can be explained in terms of game theory. These game theoretic models, however, don't fully account for how and why utterances are used to change social norms. This paper describes the problem and some of the solution elements. There are three existing, relevant, game-based models. The first is a game theoretic model of social norm change (Bicchieri, 2005, 2016). This accounts for how individuals make decisions to adhere to or violate norms, based on empirical expectations of how others will behave. The second is the idea of a conversational game (Lewis, 1979) and its extensions. This posits that speech acts are accommodated in a conversation to make what is said correct play. This feature can explain how some speech acts, such as slurring utterances, change the dynamics of a conversation. The third is a theory of pragmatic inference, known as Rational Speech Act theory (Goodman and Frank, 2016). This is a computational theory of pragmatics, of how listeners interpret utterances and how speakers construct utterances that can be understood. This paper proposes, without setting out the full formal model, that elements of these three theories need to be incorporated together into a game theoretic model of how utterances change long-term social norms.

Type
Paper
Copyright
Copyright © The Royal Institute of Philosophy and the contributors 2024

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Allport, Gordon Willard, The Nature of Prejudice (Cambridge, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1954).Google Scholar
Asher, Nicholas and Paul, Soumya, ‘Conversation and Games’, in Logic and Its Applications: 7th Indian Conference, ICLA 2017, Proceedings 7 (Springer, 2017), 118.Google Scholar
Asher, Nicholas, Hunter, Julie, and Paul, Soumya, ‘Bias in Semantic and Discourse Interpretation’, Linguistics and Philosophy, 45:3 (2021), 393429.10.1007/s10988-021-09334-xCrossRefGoogle Scholar
Austin, John Langshaw, How to Do Things with Words (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Axelrod, Robert, ‘An Evolutionary Approach to Norms’, American Political Science Review, 80:4 (1986), 10951111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bicchieri, Cristina, The Grammar of Society: The Nature and Dynamics of Social Norms (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bicchieri, Cristina, Norms in the Wild: How to Diagnose, Measure, and Change Social Norms (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016).Google Scholar
Bicchieri, Cristina and Mercier, Hugo, ‘Norms and Beliefs: How Change Occurs’, in The Complexity of Social Norms (Springer, 2014), 3754.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bicchieri, Cristina and Sontuoso, Alessandro, ‘Game-Theoretic Accounts of Social Norms: The Role of Normative Expectations’, Handbook of Experimental Game Theory (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2020), 241–55.Google Scholar
Bicchieri, Cristina and Xiao, Erte, ‘Do the Right Thing: But Only If Others Do So’, Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 22:2 (2009), 191208.10.1002/bdm.621CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Binmore, Ken, Game Theory and the Social Contract: Playing Fair (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1994a).Google Scholar
Binmore, Ken, Game Theory and the Social Contract: Just Playing (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1994b).Google Scholar
Coleman, James S., Foundations of Social Theory (Boston: Harvard University Press, 1994).Google Scholar
Goodman, Noah D. and Frank, Michael C., ‘Pragmatic Language Interpretation as Probabilistic Inference’, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 20:11 (2016), 818–29.10.1016/j.tics.2016.08.005CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Lewis, David, ‘Scorekeeping in a Language Game’, Philosophical Papers, 1 (1979), 233–49.Google Scholar
Majid, Aisha, ‘Trump vs media: Four years of presidential press attacks charted’, in Press Gazette, Future Of Media (2022).Google Scholar
McGowan, Mary Kate, ‘Conversational Exercitives: Something Else We Do With Our Words’, Linguistics and Philosophy, 27 (2004), 93111.10.1023/B:LING.0000010803.47264.f0CrossRefGoogle Scholar
McGowan, Mary Kate, ‘Oppressive Speech’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 87:3 (2009), 389407.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
McGowan, Mary Kate, Just Words: On Speech and Hidden Harm (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
O'Connor, Cailin, The Origins of Unfairness: Social Categories and Cultural Evolution (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2019).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Osborne, Martin J., An Introduction to Game Theory (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).Google Scholar
Popa-Wyatt, Mihaela, ‘Norm-Shifting through Oppressive Acts’, in Haslanger, Sally, Jones, Karen, François Schroeter, Greg Restall, and Schroeter, Laura (eds), Mind, Language, and Social Hierarchy: Constructing a Shared Social World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2024).Google Scholar
Popa-Wyatt, Mihaela and Wyatt, Jeremy L., ‘Slurs, Roles and Power’, Philosophical Studies, 175:11 (2018), 28792906.10.1007/s11098-017-0986-2CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Skyrms, Brian, ‘Signals, Evolution and the Explanatory Power of Transient Information’, Philosophy of Science, 69:3 (2002), 407–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Solan, Eilon and Vieille, Nicolas, ‘Stochastic Games’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112:45 (2015), 13743–46.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Sterelny, Kim, The Pleistocene Social Contract: Culture and Cooperation in Human Evolution (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tirrell, Lynne, ‘Genocidal Language Games’, in McGowan, Mary Kate and Ishani, Maitra (eds), Speech and Harm: Controversies over Free Speech (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 174221.Google Scholar