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Virtual bargaining as a micro-foundation for communication

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Elementary communicative acts are both actions and signals. As actions, they should be encompassed by the theory of rational action, from rational choice theory. But as signals they are subject to pragmatics, rational principles that assign signals to messages. But the theory of action and the theory of pragmatics seem not merely distinct, but close to contradictory, as evident in the concept of ‘cheap talk’ discussed in economics. A new theory of joint rational action, virtual bargaining (developed with Jennifer Misyak, Tigran Melkonyan and Hossam Zeitoun), provides a possible bridge with pragmatics—-providing the starting point for an action-based account of foundation for pragmatics which solves the problem of cheap talk. The mathematical theory can be developed in various ways; here, though, I will focus on some recent empirical results (with Jennifer Misyak) illustrating the approach.

This talk is part of the NLIP Seminar Series series.

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