Ken Binmore

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.

  • Does Game Theory Work? The Bargaining Challenge

    Does Game Theory Work? The Bargaining Challenge

    Ken Binmore

    A collection of Ken Binmore's influential papers on bargaining experiments, with the author's newly written commentary addressing the challenges to game theory posed by the behavioral school of economics.

    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

    • Hardcover $19.75 £15.99
  • Game Theory and the Social Contract, Volume 2

    Game Theory and the Social Contract, Volume 2

    Just Playing

    Ken Binmore

    In Volume 1 of Game Theory and the Social Contract, Ken Binmore restated the problems of moral and political philosophy in the language of game theory. In Volume 2, Just Playing, he unveils his own controversial theory, which abandons the metaphysics of Immanuel Kant for the naturalistic approach to morality of David Hume. According to this viewpoint, a fairness norm is a convention that evolved to coordinate behavior on an equilibrium of a society's Game of Life. This approach allows Binmore to mount an evolutionary defense of Rawls's original position that escapes the utilitarian conclusions that follow when orthodox reasoning is applied with the traditional assumptions. Using ideas borrowed from the theory of bargaining and repeated games, Binmore is led instead to a form of egalitarianism that vindicates the intuitions that led Rawls to write his Theory of Justice. Written for an interdisciplinary audience, Just Playing offers a panoramic tour through a range of new and disturbing insights that game theory brings to anthropology, biology, economics, philosophy, and psychology. It is essential reading for anyone who thinks it likely that ethics evolved along with the human species.

    • Hardcover $85.00 £70.00
  • Game Theory and the Social Contract, Volume 1

    Game Theory and the Social Contract, Volume 1

    Playing Fair

    Ken Binmore

    Binmore argues that game theory provides a systematic tool for investigating ethical matters.

    In Game Theory and the Social Contract, Ken Binmore argues that game theory provides a systematic tool for investigating ethical matters. His reinterpretation of classical social contract ideas within a game-theoretic framework generates new insights into the fundamental questions of social philosophy. He clears the way for this ambitious endeavor by first focusing on foundational issues—paying particular attention to the failings of recent attempts to import game—theoretic ideas into social and political philosophy. Binmore shows how ideas drawn from the classic expositions of Harsanyi and Rawls produce a synthesis that is consistent with the modern theory of noncooperative games. In the process, he notes logical weaknesses in other analyses of social cooperation and coordination, such as those offered by Rousseau, Kant, Gauthier, and Nozick. He persuasively argues that much of the current literature elaborates a faulty analysis of an irrelevant game. Game Theory and the Social Contract makes game-theoretic ideas more widely accessible to those with only a limited knowledge of the field. Instructional material is woven into the narrative, which is illustrated with many simple examples, and the mathematical content has been reduced to a minimum.

    • Hardcover $77.00 £65.00
    • Paperback $35.00 £28.00
  • Frontiers of Game Theory

    Frontiers of Game Theory

    Ken Binmore, Alan Kirman, and Piero Tani

    seventeen contributions reflecting the many diverse approaches in the field today

    These seventeen contributions take up the most recent research in game theory, reflecting the many diverse approaches in the field today. They are classified in five general tactical categories - prediction, explanation, investigation, description, and prescription - and wit in these along applied and theoretical divisions. The introduction clearly lays out this framework.

    • Hardcover $14.75 £11.99

Contributor

  • Population Games and Evolutionary Dynamics

    Population Games and Evolutionary Dynamics

    William H. Sandholm

    A systematic, rigorous, comprehensive, and unified overview of evolutionary game theory.

    This text offers a systematic, rigorous, and unified presentation of evolutionary game theory, covering the core developments of the theory from its inception in biology in the 1970s through recent advances. Evolutionary game theory, which studies the behavior of large populations of strategically interacting agents, is used by economists to make predictions in settings where traditional assumptions about agents' rationality and knowledge may not be justified. Recently, computer scientists, transportation scientists, engineers, and control theorists have also turned to evolutionary game theory, seeking tools for modeling dynamics in multiagent systems. Population Games and Evolutionary Dynamics provides a point of entry into the field for researchers and students in all of these disciplines. The text first considers population games, which provide a simple, powerful model for studying strategic interactions among large numbers of anonymous agents. It then studies the dynamics of behavior in these games.

    By introducing a general model of myopic strategy revision by individual agents, the text provides foundations for two distinct approaches to aggregate behavior dynamics: the deterministic approach, based on differential equations, and the stochastic approach, based on Markov processes. Key results on local stability, global convergence, stochastic stability, and nonconvergence are developed in detail. Ten substantial appendixes present the mathematical tools needed to work in evolutionary game theory, offering a practical introduction to the methods of dynamic modeling. Accompanying the text are more than 200 color illustrations of the mathematics and theoretical results; many were created using the Dynamo software suite, which is freely available on the author's Web site. Readers are encouraged to use Dynamo to run quick numerical experiments and to create publishable figures for their own research.

    • Hardcover $80.00 £65.00
  • Moral Sentiments and Material Interests

    Moral Sentiments and Material Interests

    The Foundations of Cooperation in Economic Life

    Herbert Gintis, Samuel Bowles, Robert Boyd, and Ernst Fehr

    Moral Sentiments and Material Interests presents an innovative synthesis of research in different disciplines to argue that cooperation stems not from the stereotypical selfish agent acting out of disguised self-interest but from the presence of "strong reciprocators" in a social group.

    Presenting an overview of research in economics, anthropology, evolutionary and human biology, social psychology, and sociology, the book deals with both the theoretical foundations and the policy implications of this explanation for cooperation. Chapter authors in the remaining parts of the book discuss the behavioral ecology of cooperation in humans and nonhuman primates, modeling and testing strong reciprocity in economic scenarios, and reciprocity and social policy. The evidence for strong reciprocity in the book includes experiments using the famous Ultimatum Game (in which two players must agree on how to split a certain amount of money or they both get nothing).

    • Hardcover $55.00 £45.00
    • Paperback $35.00 £28.00
  • Evolutionary Dynamics and Extensive Form Games

    Evolutionary Dynamics and Extensive Form Games

    Ross Cressman

    An analysis of standard evolutionary dynamics adapted to extensive form games.

    Evolutionary game theory attempts to predict individual behavior (whether of humans or other species) when interactions between individuals are modeled as a noncooperative game. Most dynamic analyses of evolutionary games are based on their normal forms, despite the fact that many interesting games are specified more naturally through their extensive forms. Because every extensive form game has a normal form representation, some theorists hold that the best way to analyze an extensive form game is simply to ignore the extensive form structure and study the game in its normal form representation. This book rejects that suggestion, arguing that a game's normal form representation often omits essential information from the perspective of dynamic evolutionary game theory.

    The book offers a synthesis of current knowledge about extensive form games from an evolutionary perspective, emphasizing connections between the extensive form representation and dynamic models that traditionally have been applied to biological and economic phenomena. It develops a general theory to analyze dynamically arbitrary extensive form games and applies this theory to a range of examples. It lays the foundation for the analysis of specific extensive form models of behavior and for the further theoretical study of extensive form evolutionary games.

    • Hardcover $10.75 £8.99
  • Social Dynamics

    Social Dynamics

    Brookings Inst Press

    Economists have traditionally studied aggregate behavior as the outcome of individual decisions made interactively, while sociologists have focused on the role of social influences on individual behavior. Over the past decade, however, the barriers between the disciplines have broken down, resulting in the new area of social economics. Social economics is based on the assumption that individuals are directly influenced by the choices and characteristics of others, creating a feedback loop from the past choices of some people to the current social context and hence future choices of others. The essays in this book, by some of the creators of the field, provide an overview of social economics and represent a variety of approaches, including theoretical model-building, empirical studies, statistical analyses, and philosophical reflections.

    • Hardcover $30.00 £25.00
    • Paperback $25.00 £20.00
  • The Theory of Learning in Games

    The Theory of Learning in Games

    Drew Fudenberg and David K. Levine

    In economics, most noncooperative game theory has focused on equilibrium in games, especially Nash equilibrium and its refinements. The traditional explanation for when and why equilibrium arises is that it results from analysis and introspection by the players in a situation where the rules of the game, the rationality of the players, and the players' payoff functions are all common knowledge. Both conceptually and empirically, this theory has many problems.

    In The Theory of Learning in Games Drew Fudenberg and David Levine develop an alternative explanation that equilibrium arises as the long-run outcome of a process in which less than fully rational players grope for optimality over time. The models they explore provide a foundation for equilibrium theory and suggest useful ways for economists to evaluate and modify traditional equilibrium concepts.

    • Hardcover $55.00 £45.00
    • Paperback $35.00 £28.00
  • Evolutionary Games and Equilibrium Selection

    Evolutionary Games and Equilibrium Selection

    Larry Samuelson

    The author examines the interplay between evolutionary game theory and the equilibrium selection problem in noncooperative games.

    Evolutionary game theory is one of the most active and rapidly growing areas of research in economics. Unlike traditional game theory models, which assume that all players are fully rational and have complete knowledge of details of the game, evolutionary models assume that people choose their strategies through a trial-and-error learning process in which they gradually discover that some strategies work better than others. In games that are repeated many times, low-payoff strategies tend to be weeded out, and an equilibrium may emerge. Larry Samuelson has been one of the main contributors to the evolutionary game theory literature. In Evolutionary Games and Equilibrium Selection, he examines the interplay between evolutionary game theory and the equilibrium selection problem in noncooperative games. After providing an overview of the basic issues of game theory and a presentation of the basic models, the book addresses evolutionary stability, the dynamics of sample paths, the ultimatum game, drift, noise, backward and forward induction, and strict Nash equilibria.

    • Hardcover $80.00
    • Paperback $35.00 £28.00