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Game theory, cheap talk and post-truth politics: David Lewis vs. John Searle on reasons for truth-telling

S.M. Amadae

Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, Volume: 48, Issue: 3

Swansea University Author: S.M. Amadae

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DOI (Published version): 10.1111/jtsb.12169

Abstract

This paper examines two accounts of agents' truth-telling versus fabrication of facts: that of David Lewis and John Searle. Relying on game theory, Lewis argues that truth-telling will occur when agents' interests align, but that as soon as there are conflicts of interest, actors will deci...

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Published in: Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour
ISSN: 00218308
Published: Wiley 2018
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URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa40167
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Abstract: This paper examines two accounts of agents' truth-telling versus fabrication of facts: that of David Lewis and John Searle. Relying on game theory, Lewis argues that truth-telling will occur when agents' interests align, but that as soon as there are conflicts of interest, actors will decide whether to tell the truth or be deceptive as a matter of strategic calculation. Searle, as well as Paul Grice, argue instead that agents are motivated to tell the truth because it is a condition of meaningfully communicating. This paper raises the caution that a pedagogy of truth-telling relying wholly on game theory may reinforce selectively upholding standards of accuracy in communication strictly as a matter of incentives. Therefore a game theoretic approach to language use and understanding may reinforce an erosion of standards of public deliberation, thus contributing to actors' participation in post-truth politics.
Keywords: cheap talk, David Lewis, game theory, John Searle, Paul Grice, post-truth politics, rationality, truth
College: College of Arts and Humanities
Issue: 3