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Theses and Dissertations

Simulating Strategic Rationality Open Access


Other title
Prisoner's Dilemma
Theory of Mind
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Simpson, John
Supervisor and department
Morton, Adam (Philosophy)
Examining committee member and department
Cooper, Wes (Philosophy)
Rockwell, Geoffrey (Philosophy and Humanities Computing)
MacIntosh, Duncan (Philosophy, Univiersity of Dalhousie)
Quamen, Harvey (English & Film Studies and Humanities Computing)
Department of Philosophy

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
This project explores the intersection of three topics: games, rationality and simulation. There are four major results produced by this exploration. First, it is argued that whether or not a particular process can count as a simulation for a particular person is entirely dependent on whether or not that person is able to see the process in questions as being relevantly and appropriately similar to the process that it is intended to be a simulation of. In short, whether or not something can count as a simulation is entirely observer relative. Second, a proof is offered that there are exactly 726 meaningfully different 2x2 games. This proof addresses a confusion in the game theory literature regarding exactly how many 2x2 games are possible. Third, an argument based on the statistical likelihood of encountering each of the various 2x2 games is advanced; presenting a serious challenge for the common practice of focusing on only a small number of games such as the Prisoner's Dilemma, Chicken, and Stag Hunt. From a small set of assumptions it follows these attention grabbing games are likely to be encountered at most eight percent of the time. This result has important implications for designing artificial intelligences and for understanding human behaviour. Finally, it is shown that under certain stipulated conditions playing games using the model of rationality presented by traditional economics, decision, and game theory, results in sub optimal outcomes. Specifically, there is at least one case preventing population inhabitants from having full information provides the population that they belong to with adaptive advantages. The populations used to show this behaviour choose from a status quo position and were inspired by the framing effect known as the status quo bias. In addition to these major results it is also shown that simply endowing artificial agents with theory of mind is not necessarily beneficial and an argument is made for creating/maintaining spaces for play within science.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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