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Journal of Philosophical Logic

, Volume 46, Issue 4, pp 355–404 | Cite as

Message Exchange Games in Strategic Contexts

  • Nicholas AsherEmail author
  • Soumya Paul
  • Antoine Venant
Article

Abstract

When two people engage in a conversation, knowingly or unknowingly, they are playing a game. Players of such games have diverse objectives, or winning conditions: an applicant trying to convince her potential employer of her eligibility over that of a competitor, a prosecutor trying to convict a defendant, a politician trying to convince an electorate in a political debate, and so on. We argue that infinitary games offer a natural model for many structural characteristics of such conversations. We call such games message exchange games, and we compare them to existing game theoretic frameworks used in linguistics—for example, signaling games—and show that message exchange games are needed to handle non-cooperative conversation. In this paper, we concentrate on conversational games where players’ interests are opposed. We provide a taxonomy of conversations based on their winning conditions, and we investigate some essential features of winning conditions like consistency and what we call rhetorical cooperativity. We show that these features make our games decomposition sensitive, a property we define formally in the paper. We show that this property has far-reaching implications for the existence of winning strategies and their complexity. There is a class of winning conditions (decomposition invariant winning conditions) for which message exchange games are equivalent to Banach- Mazur games, which have been extensively studied and enjoy nice topological results. But decomposition sensitive goals are much more the norm and much more interesting linguistically and philosophically.

Keywords

Philosophy of language Dialogue Game theory Strategic reasoning 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CNRSIRITToulouseFrance
  2. 2.Université de Toulouse 3, IRITToulouseFrance

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