The Greenwood Encyclopedia of International Relations - Vol. 2

By Cathal J. Nolan | Go to book overview

Suggested Reading:
J. M. Gray, A History of the Gambia (1966).
game theory. A branch of mathematics concerned with games of probability, wins and losses, and accompanying strategies used by players. In mathematics, it is highly innovative and well-developed. However, it is misemployed by (some) political scientists and economists to analogize about human interactions from the gains and losses experienced in theorized simple games. This is done by assessing and weighing optimal choices in decision situations, where each player’s choice influences outcomes for all other players, yet choices take place in a context of limited knowledge of the choices and expectations of other players. For example, “Chicken” is a “mixed motive game” (one in which players have competitive and complementary interests) with two players hurtling toward one another in cars and the following set up: If A alone swerves, B scores 4 and A scores 2 (and vice versa); if both swerve, each scores 3; if neither swerves, each scores 1. The worst outcome occurs when neither cooperates in avoiding a collision. In “Prisoner’s Dilemma” two players face this set up: If Prisoner A defects but Prisoner B does not, A scores zero while B scores 10; if both defect, each scores 5; if neither defects, each scores 1. What is interesting here, we are told, is the paradox that the choice to be made is not clearly “irrational” altruism versus “rational” self-interest. It may be beneficial, even more rational, to play a seemingly irrational strategy: if both act on trust, each will receive a reduced penalty, but also chance a very heavy one. Choosing to defect will reduce the penalty

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The Greenwood Encyclopedia of International Relations - Vol. 2
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iv
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xxi
  • F 530
  • Suggested Reading: 534
  • Suggested Readings: 547
  • Suggested Reading: 548
  • Suggested Reading: 557
  • Suggested Readings: 571
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  • G 601
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  • H 681
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  • I 752
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  • J 846
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  • K 884
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  • L 927
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