Social Norms: Repeated Interactions, Punishment, and Context Dependence

Jonathan Grose, Cedric R Paternotte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

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We argue that recent game theoretic approaches to social norms differ on some fundamental issues, our focus being on recent accounts by Ken Binmore and Cristina Bicchieri. After a brief introduction, we present the deepest cause for their disagreement, namely whether the action of norms should be modelled as a one-shot game, the option favoured by Bicchieri, or by a repeated game, as Binmore does. Although these choices appear to leave room for the two accounts to be complementary, we then argue that this is not possible. First, differing attitudes to modelling punishment, a central feature of all informal work on social norms, prevent any straightforward integration of the two theories. Second, the solution cannot consist in merely choosing between the two accounts, as they both fail to deal with the way in which triggered norms depend on context, in static as well as diachronic frameworks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-30
Number of pages12
JournalPublic Reason
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2013


  • social norms
  • Game Theory
  • context-dependence
  • punishment
  • repeated interaction

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