Sonja Smets (ILLC, University of Amsterdam)
This course is designed for students interested in the logical analysis of social-informational phenomena. In particular, we use modal logic to reason about a number of interesting but puzzling social epistemic scenario’s in which agents exchange information, revise their beliefs and update their knowledge. We focus on social phenomena such as informational cascades, pluralistic ignorance and homophily. For instance, in an informational cascade we observe how individuals in a sequence decide to follow the decisions of their predecessors while ignoring their own private evidence. Such agents are ‘following the crowd’, whether or not the crowd is right or wrong. In this context, we are not looking at examples of mindless imitation or mass hysteria, no, these agents make a rational choice. We apply logic to analyze whether rational agents who use their higher-order reasoning powers can ultimately stop a cascade from happening.
The logical toolbox for this course is based on modal logics to represent the knowledge and beliefs of agents as well as their social relations. We focus on the necessary logical-technical details needed to represent the main scenario’s in this course. On the philosophical side, we refer to the latest work in social epistemology.
Note that this will be a two-day course (no lecture on Monday, only on
23 and 24 June).