“Has Game Theory Been Refuted,” Francesco Guala, 2006

A philosophical discussion of if (and whether) game theory has been refuted. Points out the (previously discovered) response to common “refutations” of game theory – for instance, if people play cooperate in prisoner’s dilemmas, it is not that game theory has been refuted as a predictive tool, but that either game theory has been refuted or the implicit assumption that monetary payoffs map affinely into utilities has been refuted. Does this then mean game theory is not falsifiable? No. The assumption that “any action taken by a human is by definition rational” does not map into the theorem “any action can be explained by a some utility function and payoffs.” The reason is that, if a subject plays multiple games, and Savage utility is constructed after each play, there can be an empty set of possible utility functions. Of course, there is an implicit assumption here that utility functions do not depend on, say, time, or the order the experiments are run.


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