forum 2: week of 16 Jan - Lewis

Fragment of a discussion from Course talk:Phil440A
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As a parallel of epistemology thinking between Ludwig Wittgenstein, and David Lewis, I would like to refer to the April 16 2010 paper presented by Post Doctoral Researcher Giacomo Sillari, of the University of Pennsylvania. The event was the Synthese Conference, at Columbia University. The title of the conference was Epistomology and Economics.

The title of Dr. Sillari’s paper is: Rule-following as coordination: A game-theoretic approach A few excerpts of Dr Sillari’s paper are as follows:

Make the following experiment: say “It‟s cold here” and mean “It‟s warm here”. Can you do it? Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, §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.

"In fact, a different way to state the claim of this article is to say that Wittgensteinian rule-following deals with situations identifiable insofar as a there is a custom. Thus, while not all rules are interpretable as Lewis-conventions, all rules pertinent to Wittgensteinian rule-following16 involve a conventional element and hence can be analyzed as pertaining to situations in which individual preferences regarding their actions are conditional. Such situations are consistent with Lewis‟s analysis of convention in terms of coordination and in fact, as the rest of the article will show, are best understood as recurrent coordination problems.

"Game theory sheds new light on the notoriously obscure pages of the Investigations dealing with rule-following. Taking at face value Wittgenstein‟s indication that following a rule requires that a convention be in place, I have used David Lewis‟s game-theoretic account of convention to clarify how rule-following presupposes agreement an coordination in a community. In so doing, the role played by the community is made more perspicuous, and in particular we have seen that the strategic component is crucial 35 of a full understanding of rule-following. Game theory and the Lewisian analysis of social conventions shed light also on two notions related to rule-following. The notion of Lebensform is illuminated if looked at next to the technical notion of common knowledge, and the notion blind action is clarified in the evolutionary approach. As I have already stated above, I am not claiming that game theory can cover all subtle nuances in Wittgenstein‟s notion of language-game, and neither I claim that hard interpretative issues (for instance that of solipsistic vs. communitarian reading of rule-following) can be settled by game theory once and for all. However, I do believe that I have singled out a group of notions in the Investigations which find precise counterparts in normal game-theoretic ones. Finally, if my analysis does not of course purport to be historical in character, still it highlights that the later Wittgenstein already contains seeds of a philosophy of social sciences that has found voice first in David Lewis‟s seminal study and that, today, continues to grow at the intersection of philosophy and game theory. 36"

I like Dr. Sillari’s claim that David Lewis’s philosophy is an extension of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s philosophy.

08:57, 17 January 2012