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Hardcover | $50.00 X | £37.95 | 424 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 91 illus. | March 2007 | ISBN: 9780262026079

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Does Game Theory Work? The Bargaining Challenge


This volume brings together all of Ken Binmore's influential experimental papers on bargaining along with newly written commentary in which Binmore discusses the underlying game theory and addresses the criticism leveled at it by behavioral economists.

When Binmore began his experimental work in the 1980s, conventional wisdom held that game theory would not work in the laboratory, but Binmore and other pioneers established that game theory can often predict the behavior of experienced players very well in favorable laboratory settings. The case of human bargaining behavior is particularly challenging for game theory. Everyone agrees that human behavior in real-life bargaining situations is governed at least partly by considerations of fairness, but what happens in a laboratory when such fairness considerations supposedly conflict with game-theoretic predictions? Behavioral economists, who emphasize the importance of other-regarding or social preferences, sometimes argue that their findings threaten traditional game theory. Binmore disputes both their interpretations of their findings and their claims about what game theorists think it reasonable to predict.

Binmore's findings from two decades of game theory experiments have made a lasting contribution to economics. These papers — some co-authored with other leading economists, including Larry Samuelson, Avner Shaked, and John Sutton — show that game theory does indeed work in favorable laboratory environments, even in the challenging case of bargaining.

Does Game Theory Work? The Bargaining Challenge , Volume 2

About the Author

Ken Binmore is Emeritus Professor at University College London. A Fellow of the Econometric Society and the British Academy, he is the author of Game Theory and the Social Contract, Volume 1: Playing Fair (1994) and Volume 2: Just Playing (1998), and the coeditor of Frontiers of Game Theory (1993), all three published by The MIT Press.


“Binmore offers a recipe for making game theory work. He focuses on the most basic of its principles, about which many of the theory’s critics are unaware, and captures their essence in observable terms, which theorists typically fail to do. Binmore develops the science of game theory by demonstrating that these fundamental principles are able to connect perplexing aspects of human behavior that can be captured by no other branch of science, and he does so through the implementation of laboratory methods that leave no question about how they operate.”
Charles R. Plott, Edward S. Harkness Professor of Economics and Political Science, California Institute of Technology
Does Game Theory Work? My answer is, 'Of course not, and why should it?' But even a hardcore skeptic like me recognizes the charm and conviction in the works of Ken Binmore, which are brought together in this lovely book.”
Ariel Rubinstein, School of Economics, Tel Aviv University, and Department of Economics, New York University