Game Theory as Social Theory: Finding Spontaneous Order

49 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2018

See all articles by Abigail Devereaux

Abigail Devereaux

George Mason University, Department of Economics

Richard E. Wagner

George Mason University - Department of Economics

Date Written: August 31, 2018

Abstract

Game theory holds out the promise of transforming the core of economic theory from a science of rational choice into a science of human interaction. While traditional game theory does open into social interaction, it mostly neglects another central feature of economic intuition: spontaneous ordering of human activity. To provide space for spontaneous ordering, we advance the concept of synecological game theory. In this manner, social theory is conveyed not by a single, illustrative game but by interaction among a set of interrelated and continually evolving games. By doing this, we replace the presumption of fully coincident perceptions with the recognition that actions invariably operate where perceptions are fundamentally non-coincident. In other words, societal operation entails assembly of more knowledge than can be contained within any player’s mind. In this paper, we sketch the central features of importing a synecological orientation into game theory and explore how doing so expands the analytical agenda of game theory.

Keywords: distributed knowledge; assembly of knowledge; synecology as social theory; emergence of institutional arrangements; realism in economic models; complexity; spontaneous order

JEL Classification: B41, C73, D85, L14

Suggested Citation

Devereaux, Abigail and Wagner, Richard E., Game Theory as Social Theory: Finding Spontaneous Order (August 31, 2018). GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 18-23. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3241876 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3241876

Abigail Devereaux

George Mason University, Department of Economics ( email )

Fairfax, VA
United States

Richard E. Wagner (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
334 Enterprise Hall
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States
(703) 993-1132 (Phone)

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