2.75 Game Theory

Category: Philosophy of Science

Keywords: player, players, games, game, chess, climate, strategies, playing, prisoner, payoff, cooperation, cooperative, gauthier, bargaining, joint

Number of Articles: 163
Percentage of Total: 0.5%
Rank: 85th

Weighted Number of Articles: 157.7
Percentage of Total: 0.5%
Rank: 88th

Mean Publication Year: 1990.9
Weighted Mean Publication Year: 1986.2
Median Publication Year: 1993
Modal Publication Year: 2007

Topic with Most Overlap: Decision Theory (0.0449)
Topic this Overlaps Most With: Decision Theory (0.0257)
Topic with Least Overlap: Early Modern (0.00011)
Topic this Overlaps Least With: Chemistry (0.00038)

A scatterplot showing which proportion of articles each year are in the game theorytopic. The x-axis shows the year, the y-axis measures the proportion of articles each year in this topic. There is one dot per year. The highest value is in 2013 when 1.5% of articles were in this topic. The lowest value is in 1899 when 0.0% of articles were in this topic. The full table that provides the data for this graph is available in Table A.75 in Appendix A.

Figure 2.173: Game theory.

A set of twelve scatterplots showing the proportion of articles in each journal in each year that are in the Game Theorytopic. There is one scatterplot for each of the twelve journals that are the focus of this book. In each scatterplot, the x-axis is the year, and the y-axis is the proportion of articles in that year in that journal in this topic. Here are the average values for each of the twelve scatterplots - these tell you on average how much of the journal is dedicated to this topic. Mind - 0.3%. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society - 0.2%. Ethics - 0.7%. Philosophical Review - 0.2%. Analysis - 0.5%. Philosophy and Public Affairs - 1.4%. Journal of Philosophy - 0.7%. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research - 0.2%. Philosophy of Science - 0.8%. Noûs - 0.3%. The Philosophical Quarterly - 0.3%. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science - 0.6%. The topic reaches its zenith in year 1993 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 1.9% of the articles. And it hits a minimum in year 1899 when it makes up, on average across the journals, 0.0% of the articles.

Figure 2.174: Game theory articles in each journal.

Table 2.186: Characteristic articles of the game theory topic.


A funny thing about contemporary academia is that there is very little work on (single-person) decision theory outside of philosophy but huge amounts of work on (multiperson) game theory. Inside philosophy, the situation is completely reversed. Game theory is a tiny topic. I keep trying to do something about this, primarily by writing game theoretic papers and teaching game theory courses, but I’m not making a big impact.

This topic actually covers three quite disparate subjects:

  • General work on the nature of games, some of it related to the discussion of games and play in Wittgenstein.
  • The use of prisoners’ dilemma and other game-theoretic tools to analyse social interactions. (This is what accounts for the spike in Philosophy and Public Affairs).
  • The use of evolutionary game theory to explain some puzzling biological phenomena.

The last of these is the largest of the three, which is why I’ve put the topic in philosophy of science. But none of them are very large, and collectively they barely make up enough to deserve being a topic.