One of the central concepts of political science is conflict, that is, situations where the actions of one individual (or group) both influence and are influenced by those of another. Real-world examples of such conflict situations tend to be enormously complex, and a considerable amount of influential work in political science deals with the analysis of particular conflict situations and the ramifications of literally dozens of subtle influences upon the events that took place.
The kind of analysis that we will undertake here, however, is at the other end of the spectrum. Instead of the kind of fine analysis that is very specific to a particular event, we will consider some extremely simple game-theoretic models that provide a very coarse analysis applicable to many different events of historical significance. The justification for this undertaking, however, lies in the extent to which these game-theoretic analyses, coarse though they may be, nevertheless shed light on why various events unfolded as they did, as well as to explain some of the intractabilities of situations such as the arms race of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.
KeywordsNash Equilibrium Dominant Strategy Move Version Rational Play Finite Game
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