Players of the Game: Rationality, Choice, and Indeterminacy

  • Matthijs Krul
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Economic Thought book series (PHET)


One of the core elements in all of Douglass North’s work is his view of economic agents as ‘players of the game’ and institutions as the ‘rules of the game’. This chapter systematically analyzes how North uses these terms and in what ways he justifies this usage. As Krul argues, underlying this conception is an implicit game theoretical view of human society as a set of strategic interactions. However, for such models of social behavior to work, some fairly exacting technical criteria of rationality must be met. As Krul shows, North’s approach does not meet these, instead revealing fundamental ambiguity about just how rational agents are supposed to be. The result is that the ‘players of the game’ approach becomes indeterminate.


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthijs Krul
    • 1
  1. 1.Max Planck Institute for Social AnthropologyBerlinGermany

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