How Democracy Resolves Conflict in Difficult Games

  • Steven J. Brams
  • D. Marc Kilgour
Part of the Springer Series in Game Theory book series (SSGT)


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.


Nash Equilibrium Public Good Dominant Strategy Free Rider Vote Game 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank Todd R. Kaplan, Christian Klamler, Maria Montero, Brian Skyrms, and Donald Wittman for valuable comments on an earlier version of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven J. Brams
    • 1
  • D. Marc Kilgour
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PoliticsNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA

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