The Surprise Exam Paradox, Rationality, and Pragmatics: A Simple Game-Theoretic Analysis Articles uri icon

publication date

  • June 2008

start page

  • 285

end page

  • 299


  • 3


  • 15

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1469-9427

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1350-178X


  • The surprise exam paradox has attracted the attention of prominent logicians, mathematicians and philosophers for decades. Although the paradox itself has been resolved at least since Quine (1953), some aspects of it are still being discussed. In this paper we propose, following Sober (1998), to translate the paradox into the language of game theory to clarify these aspects. Our main conclusions are that a much simpler game-theoretic analysis of the paradox is possible, which solves most of the puzzles related to it, and that this way of analysing the paradox can also throw light on our comprehension of the pragmatics of linguistic communication.