Natural Rationality | decision-making in the economy of nature


How to Play the Ultimatum Game

I am very pleased to announce the publication of a new paper on mine (co-authored with Paul Thagard) in Philosophical Psychology:

Hardy-Vallée, B., & Thagard, P. (2008). How to Play the Ultimatum Game: An Engineering Approach to Metanormativity. Philosophical Psychology, 21(2), 173 - 192. [doi: 10.1080/09515080801976581]


The ultimatum game is a simple bargaining situation where the behavior of people frequently contradicts the optimal strategy according to classical game theory. Thus, according to many scholars, the commonly observed behavior should be considered 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.