POLSCI 1G06 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Game Theory

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Political Science 1G06 2014 Lecture 1a
What is Political? Where is political? Defining our terms
- According to one textbook (Dickerson and Flanagan), “Government…
has to do with compulsion, not voluntary decision making.
Government is a specialized activity of those individuals that make
and enforce public decisions that are binding upon the whole
community (p4)”
- Is governmental hierarchy necessary for social life? Do we need
- One (possible) way of answering this question is by applying Game
Theory, particularly the Prisoners Dilemma
- Game theory is a way of modelling and predicting how human beings
will interact given specific circumstances and assumptions
- Prisoners Dilemma (one type of game scenario) asks the question of
what is the most likely outcome (given specific assumptions about
individual rationality)
oIn an environment where there is no authority in place to
enforce agreements
- The result: people behaving rationally on an individual level can
generate outcomes that are irrational
- One way out of the Prisoners Dilemma is for some authority that can
enforce agreements and punish those who cheat
- Government performs this function (according to the theory)
- “Politics is a phenomenon found in and between all groups,
institutions (formal and informal) and societies, cutting across public
and private life. It is involved in all the relations, institutions and
structures which are implicated in the activities of production and
reproduction in the life of societies…Thus politics is about power;
about the forces which influence and reflect its distribution and use;
and about the effect of this on resource use and distribution…it is not
about Government or government alone (Held and Leftwich, 1984,
- Politics is the study of power
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