The Bounds of Reason
Game Theory and the Unification of the Behavioral Sciences
Game theory is central to understanding human behavior and relevant to all of the behavioral sciences--from biology and economics, to anthropology and political science. However, as The Bounds of Reason demonstrates, game theory alone cannot fully explain human behavior and should instead complement other key concepts championed by the behavioral disciplines. Herbert Gintis shows that just as game theory without broader social theory is merely technical bravado, so social theory without game theory is a handicapped enterprise.
Gintis illustrates, for instance, that game theory lacks explanations for when and how rational agents share beliefs. Rather than construct a social epistemology or reasoning process that reflects the real world, game theorists make unwarranted assumptions which imply that rational agents enjoy a commonality of beliefs. But, Gintis explains, humans possess unique forms of knowledge and understanding that move us beyond being merely rational creatures to being social creatures. For a better understanding of human behavior, Gintis champions a unified approach and in doing so shows that the dividing lines between the behavioral disciplines make no scientific sense. He asks, for example, why four separate fields--economics, sociology, anthropology, and social psychology--study social behavior and organization, yet their basic assumptions are wildly at variance. The author argues that we currently have the analytical tools to render the behavioral disciplines mutually coherent.
Combining the strengths of the classical, evolutionary, and behavioral fields, The Bounds of Reason reinvigorates the useful tools of game theory and offers innovative thinking for the behavioral sciences.
Herbert Gintis holds faculty positions at the Santa Fe Institute, Central European University, and University of Siena. He is the author of Game Theory Evolving (Princeton) and the coeditor of numerous books, including Moral Sentiments and Material Interests, Unequal Chances (Princeton), and Foundations of Human Sociality.