On the Foundations of Nash Equilibrium: Hans Jørgen Jacobsen

Economics and Philosophy 12 (1):67-88 (1996)


The most important analytical tool in non-cooperative game theory is the concept of a Nash equilibrium, which is a collection of possibly mixed strategies, one for each player, with the property that each player's strategy is a best reply to the strategies of the other players. If we do not go into normative game theory, which concerns itself with the recommendation of strategies, and focus instead entirely on the positive theory of prediction, two alternative interpretations of the Nash equilibrium concept are predominantly available.In the more traditional one, a Nash equilibrium is a prediction of actual play. A game may not have a Nash equilibrium in pure strategies, and a mixed strategy equilibrium may be difficult to incorporate into this interpretation if it involves the idea of actual randomization over equally good pure strategies. In another interpretation originating from Harsanyi, see also Rubinstein, and Aumann and Brandenburger, a Nash equilibrium is a ‘consistent’ collection of probabilistic expectations, conjectures, on the players. It is consistent in the sense that for each player each pure strategy, which has positive probability according to the conjecture about that player, is indeed a best reply to the conjectures about others.

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Citations of this work

What is Rational About Nash Equilibria?Mathias Risse - 2000 - Synthese 124 (3):361 - 384.
On the Principle of Coordination.Maarten C. W. Janssen - 2001 - Economics and Philosophy 17 (2):221-234.

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