Game Theory and the Architecture of Social Theory: Reflections on Luigino Bruni's Ethos of the Market

22 Pages Posted: 27 Oct 2013

See all articles by Richard E. Wagner

Richard E. Wagner

George Mason University - Department of Economics

Date Written: October 25, 2013

Abstract

This essay is written for a symposium on Luigino Bruni’s The Genesis and Ethos of the Market. That book identifies a tradition of Neapolitan civil economy that arose in the 18th century, and which the author opposes to the more familiar tradition of Smithian political economy. The difference in traditions is located in contrasting theories of society in which markets are situated. Where Bruni reduces the Smithian tradition to a prisoners’ or Hobbesian dilemma, he reduces the Neapolitan tradition to a stag hunt. While this essay accepts the general superiority of the stag hunt as a framework for organizing social theory, it also explains the misleading character of Bruni’s reduction of society to a universal stag hunt. In place of that reduction, this essay treats societies as ecologies of stag hunts which in turn leads to recognition that societies are continually turbulent and conflictual and not placid and peaceful.

Keywords: Neapolitan civil economy; Antonio Genovesi; stag hunts; prisoners’ dilemmas; game theory as social theory; society as ecology; social conflict

JEL Classification: B10, C70, E02, P16

Suggested Citation

Wagner, Richard E., Game Theory and the Architecture of Social Theory: Reflections on Luigino Bruni's Ethos of the Market (October 25, 2013). GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 13-26. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2345515 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2345515

Richard E. Wagner (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
334 Enterprise Hall
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States
(703) 993-1132 (Phone)

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