Games, Groups, and the Global Good

Part of the series Springer Series in Game Theory pp 229-241


How Democracy Resolves Conflict in Difficult Games

  • Steven J. BramsAffiliated withDepartment of Politics, New York University
  • , D. Marc KilgourAffiliated withDepartment of Politics, New York University

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Democracy resolves conflicts in difficult games like prisoners’ dilemma and chicken by stabilizing their cooperative outcomes. It does so by transforming these games into games in which voters are presented with a choice between a cooperative outcome and a Pareto-inferior noncooperative outcome. In the transformed game, it is always rational for voters to vote for the cooperative outcome, because cooperation is a weakly dominant strategy independent of the decision rule and the number of voters who choose it. Such games are illustrated by 2-person and n-person public-goods games, in which it is optimal to be a free rider, and a biblical story from the book of Exodus.