This introductory chapter sets out the book’s purpose, which is to present a wide range of economic research on conflict. It brings together a variety of approaches, from the purely game-theoretical to the experimental, that all have in common a rational-choice perspective on conflict—a topic that often in the past has been thought to involve the inherently irrational. It is argued that economics needs a theory of conflict because economic transactions, even when they are not outright conflicting, necessarily take place in the shadow of conflict. An overview of the subsequent chapters is also presented.
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