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Arguments for a Better World: Essays in Honor of Amartya SenVolume I: Ethics, Welfare, and Measurement$
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Kaushik Basu and Ravi Kanbur

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199239115

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199239115.001.0001

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Isolation, Assurance and Rules *

Isolation, Assurance and Rules *

CAN RATIONAL FOLLY SUPPLANT FOOLISH RATIONALITY?

Chapter:
(p.523) Chapter 28 Isolation, Assurance and Rules*
Source:
Arguments for a Better World: Essays in Honor of Amartya Sen
Author(s):

Peter Hammond

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199239115.003.0029

In an ‘isolation paradox’ game whose many players have identical preferences, conforming to a rule which maximizes average utility is individually a strictly dominated strategy. Suppose, however, some players think ‘quasi-magically’, or in accordance with evidential (but not causal) decision theory. They act as though believing that others' behavior is correlated with (but not caused by) their own disposition to conform, or not. Standard game theory excludes such ‘folly’. Yet it can rationalize ‘rule utilitarian’ cooperative behaviour. Comparisons are made with Newcomb's problem and related attempts to resolve the Prisoner's dilemma, as well as with an approach to eliciting players' subjective beliefs about other players' strategies in any normal form game.

Keywords:   rationality, collective action, evidential decision theory, rule utilitarianism, subjective probabilities in games, Prisoner's dilemma, Newcomb's problem

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