The last few decades have witnessed the growing importance of multi-agent perspectives in epistemic matters. While traditional epistemology has largely centered on what single agents know, barring the occasional encounter with a skeptic, there has been a growing focus on interaction in many disciplines, turning from single-reasoner to many-reasoners problems, the way physicists turned to many-body constellations as the essence of nature. This trend may be seen in social epistemology, speaker-hearer views of meaning, dialogical foundations of logic, or multi-agent systems instead of single computing devices in computer science. While an inference or an observation may be the basic informational act for a single agent, think of a question plus answer as the unit of social communication. This agent exchange involves knowledge about facts and about others, and the information that flows and thus changes the current epistemic state of both agents in systematic ways. Existing epistemic and doxastic logics can describe part of this setting, since they allow for iteration for different agents, expressing thinks like “agent 1 believes that agent 2 knows whether the heater is on”. But the next level of social interaction involves the formation of groups with their own forms of knowledge, based perhaps on shared information.
Suggested Further Reading
- Epistemic foundations of game theory as initiated by Aumann is a very rich area. Here is a selection of just a few papers that will set the reader thinking: J. Geanakoplos & H. Polemarchakis, ‘We Can’t Disagree Forever’, Journal of Economic Theory 28, 1982, 192–200; P. Battigalli & G. Bonanno, ‘Recent Results on Belief, Knowledge and the Epistemic Foundations of Game Theory’, Research in Economics 53(2), 1999, 149–225; A. Brandenburger, ‘The Power of Paradox: some Recent Developments in Interactive Epistemology’, International Journal of Game Theory 35(4): 465–492. D. Samet & P. Jehiel, ‘Learning to Play Games in Extensive Form by Valuation’, Journal of Economic Theory 124, 2005, 129–148.Google Scholar
- Epistemic considerations on agency in computer science are an equally rich area. We have given some textbook references in connection with logics of knowledge and belief, but here is an influential classical paper: J. Y. Halpern & Y. Moses, ‘Knowledge and Common Knowledge in a Distributed Environment’, Journal of the ACM 37:3, 1990, 549–587. An excellent monograph tying together logics of agency with game theory and much more is Y. Shoham & K. Leyton-Brown, Multiagent Systems, Cambridge University Press, 2009. Zooming in on ‘dynamic-epistemic’ foundations of information-driven agency, a comprehensive treatment is in J. van Benthem, Logical Dynamics of Information and Interaction, Cambridge University Press, 2011. Additional specifics of the interface of logic and games are found in W. van der Hoek & M. Pauly, ‘Modal Logic and Games’, in P. Blackburn, J. van Benthem & F. Wolter, eds. Handbook of Modal Logic, Elsevier, 2006, 1077–1148. A comprehensive philosophical analysis is found in B. de Bruin, Explaining Games: The Epistemic Programme in Game Theory, Springer, 2010. Finally, there is the growing stream of social epistemology, an area with many philosophical motivations beyond game theory, with books such as A. Goldman, Knowledge in a Social World, Oxford University Press, 1999, and Ch. List & Ph. Petit, Group Agency, Oxford University Press, 2011. Another important stream has been the influence of evolutionary game theory as a paradigm for philosophical studies, with B. Skyrms’ The Stag Hunt and the Evolution of Social Structure, Cambridge University Press, 2004, as an outstanding example of the insights emerging in this way.Google Scholar