, Volume 151, Issue 2, pp 201–232

The Secret of My Success


DOI: 10.1007/s11229-005-3384-9

Cite this article as:
Van Ditmarsch, H. & Kooi, B. Synthese (2006) 151: 201. doi:10.1007/s11229-005-3384-9


In an information state where various agents have both factual knowledge and knowledge about each other, announcements can be made that change the state of information. Such informative announcements can have the curious property that they become false because they are announced. The most typical example of that is ‘fact p is true and you don’t know that’, after which you know that p, which entails the negation of the announcement formula. The announcement of such a formula in a given information state is called an unsuccessful update. A successful formula is a formula that always becomes common knowledge after being announced. Analysis of information systems and ‘philosophical puzzles’ reveals a growing number of dynamic phenomena that can be described or explained by unsuccessful updates. This increases our understanding of such philosophical problems. We also investigate the syntactic characterization of the successful formulas.

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Computer ScienceUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand
  2. 2.PhilosophyUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands