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To understand rational behaviour in social interactions we turn our attention to game theory.


Our aim in studying game theory is to answer this question:

When two or more agents interact, so that which outcome one agent’s choice brings about depends on how another chooses, how do their preferences guide their choices?

We will also investigate whether reflection on game theory provides a challenge to the leading philosophers’ accounts of joint action.

This lecture depends on you having studied some sections from a previous lecture:

For the minimum course of study, consider only these sections:

None of this week’s material is required for the assignment on decision theory.

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decision theory : I use ‘decision theory’ for the theory elaborated by Jeffrey (1983). Variants are variously called ‘expected utility theory’ (Hargreaves-Heap & Varoufakis, 2004), ‘revealed preference theory’ (Sen, 1973) and ‘the theory of rational choice’ (Sugden, 1991). As the differences between variants are not important for our purposes, the term can be used for any of core formal parts of the standard approaches based on Ramsey (1931) and Savage (1972).
game theory : This term is used for any version of the theory based on the ideas of Neumann et al. (1953) and presented in any of the standard textbooks including. Hargreaves-Heap & Varoufakis (2004); Osborne & Rubinstein (1994); Tadelis (2013); Rasmusen (2007).


Hargreaves-Heap, S., & Varoufakis, Y. (2004). Game theory: A critical introduction. London: Routledge. Retrieved from
Jeffrey, R. C. (1983). The logic of decision, second edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Neumann, J. von, Morgenstern, O., Rubinstein, A., & Kuhn, H. W. (1953). Theory of Games and Economic Behavior. Princeton, N.J. ; Woodstock: Princeton University Press.
Osborne, M. J., & Rubinstein, A. (1994). A course in game theory. MIT press.
Ramsey, F. (1931). Truth and probability. In R. Braithwaite (Ed.), The foundations of mathematics and other logical essays. London: Routledge.
Rasmusen, E. (2007). Games and information: An introduction to game theory (4th ed). Malden, MA ; Oxford: Blackwell Pub.
Savage, L. J. (1972). The foundations of statistics (2nd rev. ed). New York: Dover Publications.
Sen, A. (1973). Behaviour and the Concept of Preference. Economica, 40(159), 241–259.
Sugden, R. (1991). Rational Choice: A Survey of Contributions from Economics and Philosophy. The Economic Journal, 101(407), 751–785.
Tadelis, S. (2013). Game theory: An introduction. Princeton: Princeton University Press.