, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 197-208

First online:

Game Theory in Philosophy

  • Boudewijn de BruinAffiliated withFaculty of Philosophy, University of Groningen Email author 

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Game theory is the mathematical study of strategy and conflict. It has wide applications in economics, political science, sociology, and, to some extent, in philosophy. Where rational choice theory or decision theory is concerned with individual agents facing games against nature, game theory deals with games in which all players have preference orderings over the possible outcomes of the game. This paper gives an informal introduction to the theory and a survey of applications in diverse branches of philosophy. No criticism is reviewed. Game theory is shown at work in discussions about epistemological dependence (prisoner’s dilemma), liberalism and efficiency (Nash equilibrium), Hume’s concept of convention (correlated equilibrium), morality and rationality (bargaining games), and distributive justice and egalitarianism (evolutionary game theory). A guide to the literature provides hints at applications in collective intentionality, epistemology, ethics, history of philosophy, logic, philosophy of language, and political philosophy.