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How Democracy Resolves Conflict in Difficult Games

GAMES, GROUPS, AND THE GLOBAL GOOD, Simon Levin, ed., Springer, Forthcoming

21 Pages Posted: 24 Dec 2008  

Steven J. Brams

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics

D. Marc Kilgour

Wilfrid Laurier University

Date Written: December 23, 2008

Abstract

Democracy resolves conflicts in difficult games like Prisoners' Dilemma and Chicken by stabilizing their cooperative outcomes. It does so by transforming these games into games in which voters are presented with a choice between a cooperative outcome and a Pareto-inferior noncooperative outcome. In the transformed game, it is always rational for voters to vote for the cooperative outcome, because cooperation is a weakly dominant strategy independent of the decision rule and the number of voters who choose it. Such games are illustrated by 2-person and n-person public-goods games, in which it is optimal to be a free rider, and a biblical story from the book of Exodus.

Keywords: Democracy, voting, game theory, public goods, cooperation, Bible

JEL Classification: C72, D02, D62, H41

Suggested Citation

Brams, Steven J. and Kilgour, D. Marc, How Democracy Resolves Conflict in Difficult Games (December 23, 2008). GAMES, GROUPS, AND THE GLOBAL GOOD, Simon Levin, ed., Springer, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1319798

Steven J. Brams (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics ( email )

Dept. of Politics
19 West 4th St., 2nd Fl.
New York, NY 10012
United States
212-998-8510 (Phone)
212-995-4184 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://politics.as.nyu.edu/object/stevenbrams.html

D. Marc Kilgour

Wilfrid Laurier University ( email )

75 University Ave W
Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3C5
Canada
519-884-0710 Ext.4208 (Phone)
519-884-5057 (Fax)

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