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On David Gauthier’s Theories of Coordination and Cooperation


In 1975, Gauthier discussed Schelling’s pure coordination games and Hodgson’s Hi-Lo game. While developing an original analysis of how rational players coordinate on ‘focal points,’ Gauthier argued, contrary to Schelling and Hodgson, that successful coordination in these games does not depend on deviations from conventional principles of individually rational choice. I argue that Gauthier’s analysis of constrained maximization in Morals by Agreement, which famously deviates from conventional game theory, has significant similarities with Schelling’s and Hodgson’s analyses of coordination. Constrained maximization can be thought of as a pragmatic and contractarian variant of the team-reasoning approach pioneered by Hodgson.

En 1975, David Gauthier a discuté la question des jeux de coordination pure de Schelling et des jeux Hi-Lo de Hodgson. Tout en proposant une analyse originale de la façon dont les joueurs rationnels se coordonnent sur des «points focaux», Gauthier a soutenu contre Schelling et Hodgson que dans ces jeux, une coordination réussie ne dépend pas de déviations par rapport aux principes conventionnels du choix rationnel individuel. J’avance que l’analyse de la maximisation contrainte proposée par Gauthier dans Morals by Agreement, qui s’éloigne de façon notoire de la théorie des jeux conventionnelle, présente d’importantes similarités avec les analyses de la coordination de Schelling et Hodgson. La maximisation contrainte peut être envisagée comme une variante pragmatique et contractualiste de l’approche du raisonnement par équipe introduite par Hodgson.

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Michael Bacharach 1987 “A Theory of Rational Decision in Games,” Erkenntnis 27, 1755.

B. Douglas Bernheim 1984 “Rationalizable Strategic Behavior,” Econometrica 52 (4), 10071028.

André Casajus 2001 Focal Points in Framed Games: Breaking the Symmetry, Berlin: Springer-Verlag.

Robin Cubitt and Robert Sugden 2014 “Common Reasoning in Games: A Lewisian Analysis of Common Knowledge of Rationality,” Economics and Philosophy 30 (3), 285329.

David Gauthier 1975 “Coordination,” Dialogue 14 (2), 195221.

Maarten Janssen 2001 “Rationalising Focal Points,” Theory and Decision 50 (2), 119148.

David Pearce 1984 “Rationalizable Strategic Behavior and the Problem of Perfection,” Econometrica 52 (4), 10291050.

Robert Sugden 1991 “Rational Choice: A Survey of Contributions from Economics and Philosophy,” Economic Journal 101 (407), 751785.

Robert Sugden 1993 “Thinking as a Team: Towards an Explanation of Non-selfish Behavior,” Social Philosophy & Policy 10 (1), 6989.

Robert Sugden 1995 “A Theory of Focal Points,” Economic Journal 105 (430), 533550.

Robert Sugden 2003 “The Logic of Team Reasoning,” Philosophical Explorations 6 (3), 165181.

Robert Sugden 2015 “Team Reasoning and Intentional Cooperation for Mutual Benefit,” Journal of Social Ontology 1 (1), 143166.

Robert Sugden and Ignacio Zamarrón 2006 “Finding the Key: The Riddle of Focal Points,” Journal of Economic Psychology 27 (5), 609621.

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Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review / Revue canadienne de philosophie
  • ISSN: 0012-2173
  • EISSN: 1759-0949
  • URL: /core/journals/dialogue-canadian-philosophical-review-revue-canadienne-de-philosophie
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