Game Theory and Public Policy
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Game Theory and Public Policy

Roger A. McCain

Game theory is useful in understanding collective human activity as the outcome of interactive decisions. In recent years it has become a more prominent aspect of research and applications in public policy disciplines such as economics, philosophy, management and political science, and in work within public policy itself. Here Roger McCain makes use of the analytical tools of game theory with the pragmatic purpose of identifying problems and exploring potential solutions in public policy.
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Chapter 1: Objectives and Scope of the Book

Roger A. McCain

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1. Objectives and scope of the book In recent years game theory has become more prominent as an aspect of research and applications in public policy disciplines such as economics, philosophy, management, and political science, and in work within public policy itself. One reason for this growing prominence may be understood from some comments of Thomas Schelling (1960) and Robert Aumann (for example, 2004). They have said that the subject matter of game theory would be better described as interactive decision theory. Schelling and Aumann shared the Nobel Memorial prize in 2005 for their work in game theory, and Aumann was the first president of the world Game Theory Society. Why then use the term “game theory” for a field that is not really about games? The game is to game theory as the experiment is to experimental science. After all, experimental science is not about experiments. It is about the natural world. Nevertheless experiments are a powerful aid to our understanding of the natural world. Similarly, when we conceive interactive decisions as games, we have a powerful aid to understanding them (and among other things, to the design of experiments). Game theory is, as Aumann says, an interdisciplinary field. “There are very few subjects that have such a broad, interdisciplinary sweep. Let me just put over here some of the ordinary disciplines that are involved in game theory. We have mathematics, computer science, economics, biology, (national) political science, international relations, social psychology, management, business, accounting, law, philosophy, statistics. Even...

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