Authors
Sergio Sismondo
Queen's University
Abstract
John Maynard Smith is the person most responsible for the use of game theory in evolutionary biology, having introduced and developed its major concepts, and later surveyed its uses. In this paper I look at some rhetorical work done by Maynard Smith and his co-author G.R. Price to make game theory a standard and common modelling tool for the evolutionary study of behavior. The original presentation of the ideas — in a 1973 Nature article — is frequently cited but almost certainly rarely read. It took reformulation of the approach to create a usable model and an object of study. Perhaps paradoxically, the new model dealt with more abstract objects than did its predecessor, but because of that a better case could be made for its realism. The particular strategy of abstraction allowed game-theoretic modelling to gain a certain measure of autonomy from empirical problems, and thus to flourish
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