Prof. Jaakko Hintikka is known as the main architect of game-theoretical semantics and of the interrogative approach to inquiry, and also as one of the architects of distributive normal forms, possible-worlds semantics, tree methods, infinitely deep logics, and the present-day theory of inductive generalization. He has authored or co-authored over 30 books and monographs that have appeared in nine languages. Five volumes of his Selected Papers (Kluwer Academic) appeared in 1996-2003. Jaakko Hintikka has edited or co-edited 17 volumes and authored or co-authored over 300 scholarly papers. A comprehensive examination of his thought appeared in 2006 as the volume The Philosophy of Jaakko Hintikka in the series Library of Living Philosophers.
The honors Jaakko Hintikka has received include the John Locke Lectureship at Oxford (1964), the Hägerström Lectureship at Uppsala (1983), the Immanuel Kant Lectureship at Stanford (1985), the Wihuri International Prize (1976), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1979-80), and honorary doctorates from the University of Liège (1984), the Jagiellonian University of Cracow (1995), and the Universities of Uppsala (2000), Oulu (2002), and Turku (2003). Most recently, he has been awarded the Rolf Schock Prize for Logic and Philosophy (2005) for his pioneering contributions to the logical analysis for modal concepts, in particular the concepts of knowledge and belief.
Language Games as a Focal Concept of Language Theory
Wittgenstein introduced the language game idea to emphasize that language use is a rulegoverned activity. But how do rules govern our linguistic behavior? After a long search, Wittgenstein decided in May 1941 that the meaning relations are constituted of entire languagegames that are primary in relation to their rules. A language game is not defined by its rules. To understand the rules one has to master the game.
An application of the mathematical theory of games to language-games led to game-theoretical semantics, which is the true conceptual basis of logic and mathematics. It has prompted important new developments in logic and in the foundations of mathematics, including more relaxed concept of probability. In the light of game-theoretical semantics, the logic that Frege formulated and that was canonized as traditional first-order logic is flawed in the sense of being too poor conceptually. This flaw is being corrected by the development of independence-friendly logic and its extensions.
Game-theoretical semantics can also help to integrate syntax and semantics. Rules for a move in a semantical game (language game) typically involve both an action on the part of a “player” and also a syntactical transformation rule to indicate what the next move will be like. Those transformations are all the syntax that is needed in an overall language theory. They are but an aspect of the semantical game rules.