The branch of mathematics called game theory – the Prisoners Dilemma is a particularly well-known example of a game – is used by philosophers, social scientists, and others to explore many types of social relations between humans and between nonhuman creatures.
In Games in the Philosophy of Biology (Cambridge University Press, 2020), Cailin O’Connor introduces the basics of game theory and its particular branch, evolutionary game theory, and discusses how game theoretic models have helped explain the genesis of the meanings of linguistic and nonlinguistic signals, altruistic behavior, the spread of misinformation, and the origins of fair and unfair distributions of benefits in society.
O’Connor, who is associate professor of logic and philosophy of science at the University of California–Irvine, also considers some of the drawbacks of game theoretic models. Her short introduction makes a major area of social scientific investigation accessible to readers without mathematical background.
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