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Game Theory and the HumanitiesBridging Two Worlds$
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Steven J. Brams

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780262015226

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262015226.001.0001

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Political Philosophy: How Democracy Resolves Conflict in Difficult Games

Political Philosophy: How Democracy Resolves Conflict in Difficult Games

Chapter:
(p.111) 5 Political Philosophy: How Democracy Resolves Conflict in Difficult Games
Source:
Game Theory and the Humanities
Author(s):

Steven J. Brams

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262015226.003.0005

This chapter examines the seemingly simple situation where voters choose between just two alternatives, and the alternative with the most votes wins. The focus is on choices that are costly to implement, such the financing of a public project. The problem is modeled as a two-person Prisoners’ Dilemma (2-person PD), and then as an n-person PD. It shows how voting resolves conflict in the PDs in each case and illustrates the n-person resolution with an example. The chapter also turns to the Hebrew Bible to demonstrate how Moses, after the idolatry of the Israelites at Mount Sinai, effectively conducted a referendum on his leadership, albeit without a formal vote, and identifies the ten difficult 2 × 2 ordinal games, in addition to PD, in which voting induces cooperation. It concludes by pointing out that voting is not a panacea, particularly in developing countries, which often lack a rule-of-law tradition, or countries in which the enforcement of laws is lax or nonexistent.

Keywords:   voting, conflict resolution, democracy, game theory, Prisoners’ Dilemma, cooperation, Moses

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