Superrational decision making is a type of rational decision making in which the players cooperate in a one-shot prisoner's dilemma without coordination, punishment, or magical thinking.
The idea is that when playing a symmetric prisoner's dilemma, one assumes that there is a unique solution to the mathematical problem of the optimal strategy, that this solution will be found and played by all superrational players, and that assuming the players are perfectly correlated, you maximize your utility.
The result in a one shot prisoner's dilemma is that two superrational players cooperate with each other, as opposed to two Nash-rational (or economically rational) players who defect.
A superrational player playing a Nash-rational economist will defect, and in general, in the absence of other superrational players, will play according to the Nash-rational strategy. It is only when there is a community of superrational players that one finds new types of rational behavior.
I have two closely related questions about the literature on this:
- Douglas Hofstadter expounds this idea at great length in a series of Scientific American articles, reprinted in his collection: "Metamagical Themas", one of which is "Dilemmas for Superrational Thinkers, Leading Up to a Luring Lottery" (Scientific American, June 1983). I believe the idea, at least in its mathematically precise form, is original to him, and I credit him whenever I mention it.
Is the mathematically precise definition of superrationality in symmetric multi-player games due to him, or was it somewhere in the literature before?
- Do philosophers take this idea seriously? I have not seen any professional literature which uses this. I am not asking whether philosophers should take the idea seriously, because I think they should. I am asking whether they do and if anyone can point me to specific examples of this that can be found in the literature.