Object-based unawareness: Axioms

DOI link to open access article: Object-based unawareness: Axioms

Oliver J. Board, Kim-Sau Chung

Journal of Mechanism and Institution Design
Volume 6, issue 1, pages 1-36 (December 2021)
doi: 10.22574/jmid.2021.12.001


This paper provides foundations for a model of unawareness, called object-based unawareness (OBU) structures, that can be used to distinguish between what an agent is unaware of and what she simply does not know. At an informal level, this distinction plays a key role in a number of papers such as Tirole (2009) and Chung & Fortnow (2016). In this paper, we give the model-theoretic description of OBU structures by showing how they assign truth conditions to every sentence of the formal language used. We then prove a model-theoretic sound and completeness theorem, which characterizes OBU structures in terms of a system of axioms. We then verify that agents in OBU structures do not violate any of the introspection axioms that are generally considered to be necessary conditions for a plausible notion of unawareness. Applications are provided in our companion paper.

Keywords: Awareness, object-based unawareness, modal logic.

JEL Classification Numbers: D83, D91.