Skip to main content
Log in

Rule-following as coordination: a game-theoretic approach

  • Published:
Synthese Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

Famously, Kripke has argued that the central portion of the Philosophical Investigations describes both a skeptical paradox and its skeptical solution. Solving the paradox involves the element of the community, which determines correctness conditions for rule-following behavior. What do such conditions precisely consist of? Is it accurate to say that there is no fact to the matter of rule following? How are the correctness conditions sustained in the community? My answers to these questions revolve around the idea (cf. P.I. §§198, 199) that a rule is followed insofar as a convention is in place. In particular, I consider the game-theoretic definition of convention offered by David Lewis and I show that it illuminates essential aspects of the communitarian understanding of rule-following.

Make the following experiment: say “It’s cold here” and mean “It’s warm here”. Can you do it?

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, 1953, §510.

I can’t say “it’s cold here” and mean “it’s warm here”—at least, not without a little help from my friends.

David Lewis, Convention.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  • Arrington R. L. (2001) Following a rule. In: Glock H.-J. (Ed.), Wittgenstein: A critical reader. Blackwell, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • Baker G., Hacker P. M. S. (1986) Skepticism, rules and language. Blackwell, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • Bardsley N., Sugden R. (2006) Human nature and sociality in economics. In: Kolm S.-C., Ythier J. M. (Eds.), Handbook of the economics of giving, reciprocity and altruism. North Holland, Amsterdam

    Google Scholar 

  • Bicchieri C. (1988) Methodological rules as conventions. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 18: 477–495

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bicchieri C. (1993) Rationality and coordination. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • Bicchieri C. (2006) Grammar of society. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • Binmore K. (1994) Game theory and the social contract I: Playing fair. MA: MIT Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • Binmore K. (1998) Game theory and the social contract II: Just Playing. MA: MIT Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • Binmore K. (2005) Natural justice. Oxford University Press, Oxford

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Blackburn S. (1984) The Individual Strikes Back. Synthese 58(3): 281–301

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bloor D. (1997) Wittgenstein, rules and institutions. Routledge, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Boghossian P. (1989) The rule-following considerations. Mind 98: 507–549

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Brandom R. (1983) Asserting. Noûs 17(4): 637–650

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cubitt R., Sugden R. (2003) Common knowledge, salience and convention: A reconstruction of David Lewis’ game theory. Economics and Philosophy 19: 175–210

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gibbard A. (1990) Wise choices, apt feelings. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA

    Google Scholar 

  • Gibbard A. (1994) Meaning and normativity. Philosophical Issues 5: 95–115

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gilbert M. (1989) Rationality and salience. Philosophical studies 57: 61–77

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Guala, F. (2012). The normativity of Lewis conventions. Synthese. doi:10.1007/s11229-012-0131-x.

  • Hacker P. M. S. (2000) Wittgenstein mind and will analytical commentary on the philosophical investigations (Vol. 4). Blackwell, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • Hacking I. (1993) On Kripke’s’ and Goodman’s uses of ‘grue’. Philosophy 68(265): 269–295

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kripke S. (1982) Wittgenstein on rules and private language. Harvard University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • Lewis D. (1969) Convention: A philosophical study. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA

    Google Scholar 

  • McDowell J. (1984) Wittgenstein on following a rule. Synthese 58(3): 325–364

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McGinn C. (1984) Wittgenstein on meaning an interpretation and evaluation. Blackwell, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • McKenzie Alexander J. (2008) The structural evolution of morality. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • Miller, A., Wright, C. (Eds.). (2002) Rule-following and meaning. McGill-Queen’s, Montreal

    Google Scholar 

  • Parikh R. (2002) Social software. Synthese 132(3): 187–211

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rescorla, M. (2011). Convention. In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2011 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.). http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2011/entries/convention.

  • Schelling T. (1960) The strategy of conflict. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA

    Google Scholar 

  • Sillari G. (2005) A logical framework for convention. Synthese 147(2): 379–400

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sillari G. (2008) Common knowledge and convention. Topoi 27(1–2): 29–39

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Skyrms B. (1996) Evolution of the social contract. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Sugden, R. (1986). The economics of rights, co-operation and welfare (2nd ed.). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Sugden R. (2001) The evolutionary turn in game theory. Journal of Economic Methodology 8(1): 113–130

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ullmann-Margalit E. (1977) The emergence of norms. Clarendon Press, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • Vanderschraaf, P., & Sillari, G. (2007). Common knowledge. In Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/common-knowledge.

  • Weirich P. (2007) Initiating coordination. Philosophy of Science 74: 790–801

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Williams M. (1989) Wittgenstein mind and meaning. Routledge, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Wittgenstein L. (1953) Philosophical investigations. Blackwell, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • Wittgenstein L. (1981) Zettel. Blackwell, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  • Zamora-Bonilla J. (1999) The elementary economics of scientific consensus. Theoria 14: 461–488

    Google Scholar 

  • Zamora-Bonilla J. (2006) Rhetoric, induction, and the free speech dilemma. Philosophy of Science 73: 175–193

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Giacomo Sillari.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Sillari, G. Rule-following as coordination: a game-theoretic approach. Synthese 190, 871–890 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-012-0190-z

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-012-0190-z

Keywords

Navigation