Economics, social neuroscience, and mindshaping

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Ross, Don
Stirling, Wynn
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We consider the potential contribution of economics to an interdisciplinary research partnership between sociology and neuroscience (‘social neuroscience’ or ’social neuroeconomics’). We correct a misunderstanding in previous literature over the understanding of humans as ‘social animals’, which has in turn led to misidentification of the potential relevance of game theory and the economics of networks to the social neuroscience project. Specifically, it has been suggested that these can be used to model mindreading. We argue that mindreading is at best a derivative and special basis for social coordination, whereas the general and pervasive phenomenon on which it depends is mindshaping. We then outline the foundations of Conditional Game Theory as a mathematical model of mindshaping, which extends game theory without displacing its classic solution concepts, and which exploits economists’ experience in modeling networks.
Economics , Sociology , Neuroscience , Game theory , Economics of networks , Mindreading , Mindshaping , Conditional Game Theory
Ross, D. and Stirling, W. (2020) 'Economics, social neuroscience, and mindshaping', in Harbecke, J. and Herrmann-Pillath, C. (eds) Social Neuroeconomics: Mechanistic Integration of the Neurosciences and the Social Sciences. London: Routledge, pp. 174-202.
© 2021, the Authors. This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge/CRC Press in Social Neuroeconomics: Mechanistic Integration of the Neurosciences and the Social Sciences on 23 September 2020, available online: