Why We Can't All Just Get Along: Human Variety and Game Theory in Hobbes's State of Nature

Southern Journal of Philosophy 40 (3):345-374 (2002)
Abstract
This paper critically examines several game theoretic interpretations of Hobbes' state of nature, including Prisoner's Dilemma and Assurance Game, and argues instead that the best matrix is that of a combination of the two, an Assurance Dilemma. This move is motivated by the fact that Hobbes explicitly notes two distinct personality types, with different preference structures, in the state of nature: dominators and moderates. The former play as if in a Prisoner's Dilemma, the latter play as if in an Assurance Game. But when meeting one another, the Assurance Dilemma represents their differing strategies, and can explain various other features of Hobbes' state of nature, as well as a key informational role played the Sovereign.
Keywords Hobbes  game theory  prisoner's dilemma  assurance game  assurance dilemma
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DOI 10.1111/j.2041-6962.2002.tb01906.x
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