El próximo martes 14 de enero, a las 12.00 h. en la Sala de Juntas de Filosofía, Filip Buekens (Center for Logic and Philosophy of Science, Institute of Philosophy, KU Leuven & Tilps, Department of Philosophy, Tilburg University) presentará su trabajo «Value (dis)agreements and pre-play conversations» dentro del seminario TeC/FiloLab.
Sometimes people find themselves in a situation where they have to coordinate their actions or choices or intentions in order to fully benefit from a situation or opportunity, or to realize a share goal. Coordination, including the mental capacities needed to achieve it, is arguably key to the nature of human social relationships (Tomasello 2019). Communication seems to be the most natural, though not the only way, to support the effective coordination of two or more individual’s actions in order to obtain more efficient, more stable, more optimal, or pareto-dominant equilibria. The problem is familiar in theories of mixed motives games and coordination games, where players have to find, or identify, one of many possible equilibria (Lewis 1969, the work of Farrell, Rabin in the 90ties, Ellingsen and Ostling 2010), and has recently been extensively studied in evolutionary approaches to human cooperation (Gintis 2009).
In game theory, the problem is that agents with shared goals engaged in coordinating their actions want to avoid mixedstrategies –they’d better converge on one of the available efficient equilibria. If two players can communicate how they plan to act, they can –ceteris paribus– converge on an equilibrium. Judgements of taste play a key role in selecting such an equilibrium. The perceived ‘faultless’ character of disputes over what is tasty sometimes just boils down to the fact that the players have to choose one out of a set of equivalent, or equally valid, equilibria.
Secondly, when the game to be played is a mixed motive game (like the Stag Hunt, the Prisoner’s Dilemma, or Battle of the Sexes), there will be asymmetric equilibria, i.e. equilibria that give one of the players an advantage over the other player, and even if the games are symmetric, the dimension of conflict can give an advantage to one of the players, who has to give in. Negotiations, finding a middle ground, compromising over what to do in the next round over an iterated game, finding correlation devices… are the kind of options explored by game theorists. The general starting point of a mixed motive game is that both players have preferences that, if acted upon, give rise to incompatible choices or actions –their preferences are, in Lewis’ terminology, not co-satisfiable in the same world. But given that they have a common goal, one player can either accept what the other player wants him to do, or give in to the other player, and content herself with lower utilities. I am going to defend that non-factual disputes should be studied as pre-play conversations that fall within the shadow of a particular type of mixed motive game. In the case of issues involving taste, the game-theoretical template is Battle of the Sexes.
The relevance for the current debate on the semantics of predicates of taste, and how disagreement over matters of taste can shed light on the truth conditions of simple taste predications like ‘a is tasy’ should be obvious. The perlocutionary dimension of these speech acts is to aim at influencing the intended audience, to get them to move in the direction of the speaker’s preferred equilibrium (Schelling 1960). If the other party disagrees, she does something crucial: she signals that she does not accept the speaker’s proposal, and she often does so by either a counter-proposal, or by denying that what the speaker says is true. In game-theoretical jargon: the speaker who utters ‘a is tasty’ has made a strategic move. An active disagreement reveals a dispute: the speaker and her audience are not just in a state of disagreement, but have common knowledge that they have a dispute over an issue.
This can tell us something about the semantic properties of ‘a is tasty’ –in the following indirect sense: what are the propositions both speakers can be taken to use in order to coordinate their actions? It will try to show that the proposition that a is tasty, not enriched by a speaker’s standard, and without its truth being relativized to a perspective, plays a key role in the rational reconstruction of the conversation. It is the focal point of the discussion.