Game Theory and the Social Contract: Just playing

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MIT Press, 1998 - Business & Economics - 589 pages
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"Ken Binmore's "Game Theory and the Social Contract" is the most important work in social philosophy since John Rawls' "Theory of Justice." It is highly original, insightful, and will be a focal point for social theory."
-- Brian Skyrms, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Professor of Economics, University of California, Irvine In Volume 1 of "Game Theory and the Social Contract," Ken Binmore restated the problems of moral and political philosophy in the language of game theory. In Volume 2, "Just Playing," he unveils his own controversial theory, which abandons the metaphysics of Immanuel Kant for the naturalistic approach to morality of David Hume. According to this viewpoint, a fairness norm is a convention that evolved to coordinate behavior on an equilibrium of a society's Game of Life. This approach allows Binmore to mount an evolutionary defense of Rawls's original position that escapes the utilitarian conclusions that follow when orthodox reasoning is applied with the traditional assumptions. Using ideas borrowed from the theory of bargaining and repeated games, Binmore is led instead to a form of egalitarianism that vindicates the intuitions that led Rawls to write his "Theory of Justice."

Written for an interdisciplinary audience, "Just Playing" offers a panoramic tour through a range of new and disturbing insights that game theory brings to anthropology, biology, economics, philosophy, and psychology. It is essential reading for anyone who thinks it likely that ethics evolved along with the human species.


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About the author (1998)

Ken Binmore is Emeritus Professor at University College London. A Fellow of the Econometric Society and the British Academy, he is the author of Game Theory and the Social Contract, Volume 1: Playing Fair (1994) and Volume 2: Just Playing (1998), and the coeditor of Frontiers of Game Theory (1993), all three published by The MIT Press.