Natural Rationality | decision-making in the economy of nature


How to Play the Ultimatum Game? An Engineering Approach to Metanormativity

A paper I wrote with Paul Thagard has been accepted for publication in Philosophical Psychology:

Abstract. The ultimatum game is a simple bargaining situation where the behavior of people frequently contradicts classical game theory. Thus, the commonly observed behavior should beconsidered irrational. We argue that this putative irrationality stems from a wrong conception of metanormativity (the study of norms about the establishment of norms). After discussing different metanormative conceptions, we defend a Quinean, naturalistic approach to the evaluation of norms. After reviewing empirical literature on the ultimatum game, we argue that the common behavior in the ultimatum game is rational and justified. We therefore suggest that the norms of economic rationality should be amended.