States of Knowledge (Rohit Parikh)

The Logic and Metaphysics Workshop will meet on October 18th from 4:15-6:15 (NY time) via Zoom for a talk by Rohit Parikh (CUNY GC).

Title: States of Knowledge

Abstract: We know from long ago that among a group of people and given a true proposition P, various states of knowledge of P are possible. The lowest is when no one knows P and the highest is when P is common knowledge. The notion of common knowledge is usually attributed to David Lewis, but it was independently discovered by Schiffer. There are indications of it also in the doctoral dissertation of Robert Nozick. Aumann in his celebrated Agreeing to Disagree paper is generally thought to be the person to introduce it into game theory. But what are the intermediate states? It was shown by Pawel Krasucki and myself that there are only countably many and they correspond to what S. C. Kleene called regular sets. But different states of knowledge can cause different group actions. If you prefer restaurant A to B and so do I, and it is common knowledge, and we want to eat together, then we are likely to both go to A. But without that knowledge we might end up in B, or one in A and one in B. This was discussed by Thomas Schelling who also popularized the notion of focal points. Do different states of knowledge always lead to different group actions? Or can there be distinct states which cannot be distinguished through action? The question seems open. It obviously arises when we try to infer the states of knowledge of animals by witnessing their actions. We will discuss the old developments as well as some more recent ideas.

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