Why Hobbes' State of Nature is Best Modeled by an Assurance Game

Utilitas 21 (3):297-326 (2009)

Authors
Michael Moehler
Virginia Tech
Abstract
In this article, I argue that if one closely follows Hobbes' line of reasoning in Leviathan, in particular his distinction between the second and the third law of nature, and the logic of his contractarian theory, then Hobbes' state of nature is best translated into the language of game theory by an assurance game, and not by a one-shot or iterated prisoner's dilemma game, nor by an assurance dilemma game. Further, I support Hobbes' conclusion that the sovereign must always punish the Foole, and even exclude her from the cooperative framework or take her life, if she defects once society is established, which is best expressed in the language of game theory by a grim strategy. That is, compared to existing game-theoretic interpretations of Hobbes, I argue that the sovereign plays a grim strategy with the citizens once society is established, and not the individuals with one another in the state of nature.
Keywords State of nature  Assurance  Compliance  Hobbes' Foole
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DOI 10.1017/s0953820809990069
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References found in this work BETA

Games and Decisions: Introduction and Critical Survey.R. Duncan Luce & Howard Raiffa - 1958 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 19 (1):122-123.
War or Peace?: A Dynamical Analysis of Anarchy.Peter Vanderschraaf - 2006 - Economics and Philosophy 22 (2):243-279.
Hobbes's War of All Against All.Gregory S. Kavka - 1982 - Ethics 93 (2):291-310.
Covenants and Reputations.Peter Vanderschraaf - 2007 - Synthese 157 (2):167 - 195.

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Citations of this work BETA

Diversity, Tolerance, and the Social Contract.Justin P. Bruner - 2015 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 14 (4):429-448.
Hobbes’s State of Nature: A Modern Bayesian Game-Theoretic Analysis.hun CHung - 2015 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 1 (3):485--508.
Hume and Mutual Advantage.J. Salter - 2012 - Politics, Philosophy and Economics 11 (3):302-321.
On Hobbes’s State of Nature and Game Theory.Bertrand Crettez - 2017 - Theory and Decision 83 (4):499-511.

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