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Social Epistemology

Symposium organized by The Departement of Theoretical Philosophy
The effectiveness of higher-order theory of mind in negotiations
Harmen de Weerd (University of Groningen)

In social interactions, people often reason about the beliefs, goals and intentions of others. This theory of mind allows them to interpret the behaviour of others, and predict how they will behave in the future. People can also use this ability recursively: they use higher-order theory of mind to reason about the theory of mind abilities of others, as in "he thinks that I don't know that he sent me an anonymous letter". In this talk, we investigate a possible explanation for the emergence of human-like recursive theory of mind abilities. We focus on repeated negotiations within the setting of a particular game, and determine to what extent higher orders of theory of mind can help computational agents to reach better outcomes. Simulation results show that theory of mind indeed presents agents with advantages over others without the ability to explicitly represent mental states. Both first-order and second-order theory of mind agents outperform agents that are more limited in their theory of mind abilities. Moreover, the presence of such first-order and second-order theory of mind agents also benefits social welfare. These results show that there are mixed-motive situations that encourage the emergence of higher-order theory of mind.

The formation of epistemc networks
Kevin Zollman (Carnegie Mellon University)

One important area of study for social epistemology is the social structure epistemic groups -- who communicates their knowledge with whom?  Significant research has been done on better and worse communication networks, but less has been done on how a group comes to have one network or another.  In this talk, I will present a number of results (some recent) from economics and philosophy about how individuals choose with whom to communicate. Understanding how individuals decide where to gain information can help us to design institutions that lead to epistemically more reliable groups.

Time table

  • 15:00 Harmen de Weerd (University of Groningen): "The effectiveness of higher-order theory of mind in negotiations"
  • 16:00 Kevin Zollman (Carnegie Mellon University): "The formation of epistemc networks"
  • 17:15 Drinks and dinner
When & where?

April 17, 2014, from 15:00 to 17:15
University of Groningen, Faculty of Philosophy, Oude Boteringestraat 52, room Beta

Last modified:29 June 2018 4.03 p.m.