Menger, Games, and Morals
Faculty for Mathematics
University of Vienna
One of the roots of game theory can be traced back to young Karl Menger and his attempt, in the early 'thirties, to develop a formal, mathematical way for dealing with moral norms. In the hands of Menger's friend Oskar Morgenstern and John von Neumann, this played a catalytic role for the analysis of rational behaviour in social and economic interactions. After a long detour, a 'game theory without rationality' originally intended to describe biological evolution has been found useful in analysing human interactions in experimental economics. This new approach, based on population dynamics and on learning models, deals with quasi-universal concerns of fairness and the emergence of moral norms. The theory thus returns, in unexpected ways, to some of the problems motivating Karl Menger.
A member of the Austrian Academy of Science, Professor Sigmund is an internationally known mathematician and a pioneer of evolutionary game dynamics. In recent years, he has been interested in the history of mathematics, especially the Vienna Circle. Professor Sigmund has co-edited the works of Karl Menger.
For more information on the Karl Menger festivities, please visit Menger 2007