Spring 2011

Philosophy 666:

# Rational Choice Theory

## Course documents:

### Syllabus

### Survey of *Ex Ante* Responses (questions only)

### Survey of *Ex Ante* Responses (with summaries of responses)

### Preview of test on utility theory

### Test on utility theory

### Test on utility theory—answer key

### Preview of test on game theory

### Test on game theory

### Test on game theory—answer key

### Preview of test on social choice theory

### Test on social choice theory

### Test on social choice theory—answer key

### Paper assignment

### Questions for Credit

## Announcements:

date | reading (and practice questions)(on Blackboard unless otherwise noted) | questions for credit |
---|---|---|

Monday, January 24 | introduction and section 1.1 | none |

Wednesday, January 26 | sections 1.2–1.3 | 1–3 |

Friday, January 28 | sections 1.4–1.5 | 4–5 |

Monday, January 31 | section 1.6 | 6–9 |

Wednesday, February 2 | none (snow day) | none |

Friday, February 4 | sections 2.1–2.2 | none |

Monday, February 7 | sections 2.3–2.4 | 10–12 |

Wednesday, February 9 | sections 2.5–2.6 | 13–16 |

Friday, February 11 | section 3.1 | 17–20 |

Monday, February 14 | section 3.2 | none |

Wednesday, February 16 | section 3.3 | 21–23 |

Friday, February 18 | section 3.4 | 24–25 |

Monday, February 21 | section 3.5 | 26–28 |

Wednesday, February 23 | no new reading—review for test 1 | none |

Friday, February 25 | no new reading—test 1 | none |

Monday, February 28 | pp. 189–195 and pp. 228–235 | none |

Wednesday, March 2 | pp. 195–197 and pp. 236–242 | 29–30 |

Friday, March 4 | pp. 197–200 | 31–32 |

Monday, March 7 | pp. 200–203.3 and pp. 243–248 | 33–34 |

Wednesday, March 9 | pp. 203.3–205 and p. 249, D–F | 35–36 |

Friday, March 11 | section 5-3b (pp. 205–207 and p. 249) | 37–38 |

Monday, March 14 | section 5-3c (pp. 207–209 and pp. 249–255) | none |

Wednesday, March 16 | section 5-3c, continued | 39–41 |

Friday, March 18 | section 5-3d | 42–44 |

Monday, March 28 | section 5-4 and 5-4a | 45–47 |

Wednesday, March 30 | sections 5-4b and 5-4c (pp. 215–218 and pp. 256–259) | 48–50 |

Friday, April 1 | section 5-4e | 51–53 |

Monday, April 4 | section 5-4e, continued | 54–56 |

Wednesday, April 6 | no new reading—review for test 2 | none |

Friday, April 8 | no new reading—test 2 | none |

Monday, April 11 | pp. 261–273 | none |

Wednesday, April 13 | pp. 275–285 | 57–59 |

Friday, April 15 | pp. 287–294 | 60–62 |

Monday, April 18 | pp. 295–312 | 63–65 |

Wednesday, April 20 | pp. 313–324 | 66–69 |

Friday, April 22 | pp. 325–333 | 70–72 |

Monday, April 25 | pp. 335–338 | none |

Wednesday, April 27 | pp. 335–338, continued | 73–75 |

Friday, April 29 | pp. 339–344 | 76–78 |

Monday, May 2 | pp. 345–353 | 79–81 |

Wednesday, May 4 | no new reading—review for test 3 | none |

Friday, May 6 | no new reading—test 3 | none |

Monday, May 9 | no new reading—return of test 3 | none |

May 6, 2011:

Today I sent the following **e-mail message to all enrolled students**:

From: Eggleston, Ben

Sent: Friday, May 06, 2011 3:40 PM

To: PHIL666 (63928) Sp11 - DL

Subject: social choice theory test recap

Hi everybody,

I have graded today's test, have posted the test and an answer key on the course web site (http://web.ku.edu/~utile/courses/rct4), and have posted the scores on the online gradebook at the Blackboard site for our course. The scores were not curved.

In case you are interested in how you did relative to the whole class, here is some statistical information. The average of the scores was 83.7, and the scores had a standard deviation of 12.4. Of the fourteen scores, there were eight within one standard deviation of the mean (i.e., between 71.3 and 96.1), three above that range, and three below it.

I will return the tests in class on Monday.

Best,

Ben Eggleston

May 2, 2011:

Today I sent the following **e-mail message to all enrolled students**:

From: Eggleston, Ben

Sent: Monday, May 02, 2011 9:58 PM

To: PHIL666 (63928) Sp11 - DL

Subject: homework and class-participation scores

Hi everybody,

I have computed your homework and class-participation scores and have posted them on the online gradebook at the Blackboard site for our course. The scores were not curved.

In case you are interested in how you did relative to the whole class, here is some statistical information. The average of the homework scores was 80.1, and the scores had a standard deviation of 12.5. Of the fourteen scores, there were nine within one standard deviation of the mean (i.e., between 67.6 and 92.6), two above that range, and three below it.

The average of the class-participation scores was 85.9, and the scores had a standard deviation of 12.2. Of the fourteen scores, there were nine within one standard deviation of the mean (i.e., between 73.7 and 98.1), three above that range, and two below it.

Best,

Ben Eggleston

April 8, 2011:

Today I sent the following **e-mail message to all enrolled students**:

From: Eggleston, Ben

Sent: Friday, April 8, 2011 2:10 PM

To: PHIL666 (63928) Sp11 - DL

Subject: game theory test recap

Hi everybody,

I have graded today's test, have posted the test and an answer key on the course web site (http://web.ku.edu/~utile/courses/rct4), and have posted the scores on the online gradebook at the Blackboard site for our course. The scores were not curved.

In case you are interested in how you did relative to the whole class, here is some statistical information. The average of the scores was 81.4, and the scores had a standard deviation of 12.9. Of the fourteen scores, there were nine within one standard deviation of the mean (i.e., between 68.5 and 94.3), three above that range, and two below it.

I will return the tests in class on Monday.

Best,

Ben Eggleston

February 25, 2011:

Today I sent the following **e-mail message to all enrolled students**:

From: Eggleston, Ben

Sent: Friday, February 25, 2011 9:02 PM

To: PHIL666 (63928) Sp11 - DL

Subject: utility theory test recap

Hi everybody,

I have graded today's test, have posted the test and an answer key on the course web site (http://web.ku.edu/~utile/courses/rct4), and have posted the scores on the online gradebook at the Blackboard site for our course. The scores posted there include a curve of 10 points.

In case you are interested in how you did relative to the whole class, here is some statistical information. The average of the scores was 78.5, and the scores had a standard deviation of 20.3. Of the seventeen scores, there were ten within one standard deviation of the mean (i.e., between 58.3 and 98.8), four above that range, and three below it.

I will return the tests in class on Monday.

Best,

Ben Eggleston

February 1, 2011:

Today I sent the following **e-mail message to all enrolled students**:

From: Eggleston, Ben

Sent: Tuesday, February 01, 2011 5:41 PM

To: PHIL666 (63928) Sp11 - DL

Subject: revised assignment due to snow day

Hi everybody,

Because of the closure of campus tomorrow and the resulting cancellation of our class, the assignment that I had scheduled for tomorrow is now scheduled for Friday. There is no change to the test dates and paper due date stated on the syllabus.

Best,

Ben Eggleston

January 21, 2011:

Today I sent the following **e-mail message to all enrolled students**:

From: Eggleston, Ben

Sent: Friday, January 21, 2011 2:18 PM

To: PHIL666 (63928) Sp11 - DL

Subject: corrected syllabus and assignments on course web site

Hi everyone,

I have just posted to the course web site a revised syllabus, one that corrects the typographical error in the URL for the course web site that was present in the version of the syllabus that I handed out in class today. I will hand out copies of this document in class on Monday.

If you were absent from class today, you can be prepared for Monday's class by consulting the course web site (http://web.ku.edu/~utile/courses/rct4) to see what the assigned reading (with practice questions) is, and you can download a PDF file containing the assigned reading (with practice questions) from the course Blackboard site.

Best,

Ben Eggleston

December 30, 2010:

Today I sent the following **e-mail message to all enrolled students**:

From: Eggleston, Ben

Sent: Thursday, December 30, 2010 8:26 AM

To: PHIL666 (63928) Sp11 - DL

Subject: Rational Choice Theory - background reading

Dear students enrolled in my Spring 2011 section of Philosophy 666, Rational Choice Theory:

I know next semester is still several weeks off, but I wanted to go ahead and mention one thing that it might be useful for you to know now. Some of you have asked me about background reading you could do in advance of the course, and my best suggestion is the book _Game Theory: A Nontechnical Introduction_, by Morton Davis. Here is some information about the relevance of this book for our course:

- There is some overlap between every chapter in the book and the material we'll be covering.

- Chapter 4 overlaps with the first third of our course, whereas the remaining chapters overlap with the remaining two thirds of our course.

- Chapter 6 probably contains more material that we won't have time to cover than any other.

What all this adds up to is that I'd recommend the whole book as background for our course, but with the proviso that we will not get to certain parts of the book.

Best wishes,

Ben Eggleston

Course description (as of September 15, 2010):

Assume a person has certain preferences over various possible outcomes of a situation in which she finds herself, and that one of the things determining which possible outcome will actually occur is a choice she is about to make. To what principles must her choice conform, in order for her choice to be a rational one? This question is the fundamental question of rational choice theory, and this course will examine the main concepts and principles normally used to answer it. The first part of the course will be devoted to utility theory, in which we imagine an agent choosing essentially in isolation from other agents (as in the case of an agent choosing which of several possible books to read or choosing which of several possible stocks to buy). The second part of the course will be devoted to game theory, in which the paradigm situation is one in which the outcome that an agent obtains depends on the choices of other agents whose choices depend, in turn, on those other agents’ reactions to, or predictions of, the agent’s own choices (as in the case of an individual negotiating to buy a car, or a firm deciding whether to defect from a price-fixing cartel). The third and final part of the course will be devoted to social choice theory, in which we consider the problem of how a set of individual preferences can be aggregated in such a way as to plausibly represent the preferences of the whole group (as in the case of a few people deciding where to have lunch, or a society deciding who its next president will be). Throughout the course, the methods of instruction and assessment will be relatively formal, akin to those of logic, mathematics, and economics. The main text for the course will consist of handouts provided by the instructor.