Philosophy | Seminar: Logic
P750 | 3257 | Gupta


Topic: Truth and Rational Choice

The central theme of the seminar will be that the concepts of truth and rational choice
have an unusual logical character: they are circular.  We shall see that we gain better
theories of truth and rational choice, if we treat these concepts as circular.

We shall begin the seminar with a study of the general theory of definitions - a theory
that shows how we can make sense of circular definitions and of systems of mutually
interdependent definitions.  Then we shall apply this theory to the concepts of truth and
rational choice.  We shall compare the results with the fixed-point theories of truth and
with game theories based on Nash equilibrium and related ideas.

The general theory of definitions (along with its application to truth) is presented in Nuel
Belnap's and my book, The Revision Theory of Truth (MIT Press, 1993).  Phil Kremer
has obtained some important results on the subject and we shall study his work.  Fixed-
points theories of truth were developed by Saul Kripke, Robert L. Martin, Peter
Woodruff, Solomon Feferman, and others.  We shall study some of the papers of these
authors also.  Luce and Raffa's Games and Decisions is a good introduction to the
equilibrium concept.  After a brief introduction to game theory, we shall study some
recent work of Andre Chapuis on the concept of rational choice.

Prerequisites: Knowledge of elementary set theory and of first-order logic (up to the
completeness theorem).  Students who have successfully completed P505 meet the
prerequisite.