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War Or Peace?: A Dynamical Analysis Of Anarchy


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    I propose a dynamical analysis of interaction in anarchy, and argue that this kind of dynamical analysis is a more promising route to predicting the outcome of anarchy than the more traditional a priori analyses of anarchy in the literature. I criticize previous a priori analyses of anarchy on the grounds that these analyses assume that the individuals in anarchy share a unique set of preferences over the possible outcomes of war, peace, exploiting others and suffering exploitation. Following Hobbes classic analysis of anarchy, I maintain that typically in anarchy some moderate individuals will most desire mutual cooperation while other dominators will most desire to exploit others cooperation. I argue that once one allows for different types of individuals in anarchy, any a priori analysis of anarchy requires unrealistic assumptions regarding the agents common knowledge of their situation. However, this move also suggests a dynamical analysis of anarchy, one that assumes no common knowledge. In the Variable Anticipation threshold model developed here, individuals modify their behavior as they learn from repeated interactions. I present specific instances of this model where the individuals in anarchy converge to different equilibria corresponding to either peace or war, depending on the initial conditions. I show that individuals are liable to converge to Hobbes war of all against all even if only a small percentage of are dominators. The presence of only a few nasty individuals gradually drives all, including those inclined to be nicer , to imitate the nasty conduct of these few. This dynamic analysis suggests that the Hobbesian war in anarchy is indeed inevitable in most realistic circumstances.You have the same propension, that I have, in favor of what is contiguous above what is remote. You are, therefore, naturally carry d to commit acts of injustice as well as I. Your example both pushes me forward in this way by imitation, and also affords me a new reason for any breach of equity, by showing me, that I shou d be the cully of my integrity, if I alone shou d impose on myself a severe restraint amidst the licentiousness of others. (David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature)

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal Economics and Philosophy.

    Volume (Year): 22 (2006)
    Issue (Month): 02 (July)
    Pages: 243-279

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    Handle: RePEc:cup:ecnphi:v:22:y:2006:i:02:p:243-279_00

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    Cited by:
    1. Powell, Benjamin & Stringham, Edward P., 2008. "Public Choice and the Economic Analysis of Anarchy: A Survey," Working Papers 2008-7, Suffolk University, Department of Economics.


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