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Plato as a Game Theorist towards an International Trade Policy


  • George E. Halkos

    (Department of Economics, University of Thessaly, 38333 Volos, Greece)

  • Nicholas C. Kyriazis

    (Department of Economics, University of Thessaly, 38333 Volos, Greece)

  • Emmanouil M. L. Economou

    (Department of Economics, University of Thessaly, 38333 Volos, Greece)


In the beginning of the second book of his Politeia (Republic) Plato in passage 2.358e–359a–c raises the issue of the administration of justice as a means of motivating people to behave fairly regarding their relationships and when cooperating with each other because, at the end, this is mutually beneficial for all of them. We argue that this particular passage could be seen as a part of a wider process of evolution and development of the institutions of the ancient Athenian economy during the Classical period (508–322 BCE) and could be interpreted through modern theoretical concepts, and more particularly, game theory. Plato argued that there are two players, each with two identical strategies, to treat the other justly or unjustly. In the beginning, each player chooses the “unjust” strategy, trying to cheat the other. In this context, which could be seen as a prisoner’s dilemma situation, both end with the worst possible outcome, that is, deceiving each other and this has severe financial consequences for both of them. Realizing this, in a repeated game situation, with increasing information on the outcome and on each other, they choose the “just” strategy so achieving the best outcome and transforming the game in a cooperative one. We analyze this, formulating a dynamic game which is related to international commercial transactions, after explaining how such a situation could really arise in Classical Athens. We argue that this is the optimal scenario for both parties because it minimizes the risk of deceiving each other and creates harmony while performing financial transactions.

Suggested Citation

  • George E. Halkos & Nicholas C. Kyriazis & Emmanouil M. L. Economou, 2021. "Plato as a Game Theorist towards an International Trade Policy," JRFM, MDPI, vol. 14(3), pages 1-15, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jjrfmx:v:14:y:2021:i:3:p:115-:d:514050

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    References listed on IDEAS

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