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Language games of reciprocity

  • Wilson, Bart J.

This paper attempts to explicate the meaning of reciprocate in economics. I first show using innate universal concepts that the definition of reciprocate appears to be circular. This circularity problem vanishes, however, when the context of the interaction is introduced as the inextricable link between the act of reciprocating and the intention to reciprocate. Applying Wittgenstein's concept of a language game, I also discuss the claim that social preferences have no agency. Rather, it is an individual's observable action that constitutes agency in reciprocity. My thesis is that social preferences emanate from the actions of social individuals and not vice versa.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 68 (2008)
Issue (Month): 2 (November)
Pages: 365-377

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:68:y:2008:i:2:p:365-377
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

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  9. M. Rabin, 2001. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Levine's Working Paper Archive 511, David K. Levine.
  10. McCabe, Kevin A. & Rigdon, Mary L. & Smith, Vernon L., 2003. "Positive reciprocity and intentions in trust games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 267-275, October.
  11. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1999. "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Munich Reprints in Economics 20650, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
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  25. Smith, Vernon L, 1985. "Experimental Economics: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 264-72, March.
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