Realism, Game Theory, and Cooperation
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 13 June 2011
Recent work has focused on the problem of how states cooperate in the environment of anarchy. Linked to the ideas of the Prisoners' Dilemma and public goods, that work has provided important insights and lines of research. But it also has problems and limitations, which are explored in the paper. The anarchy approach stresses individual actors' choices and slights questions of how issues are posed and constrained. It takes preferences as given without exploring either the frequency of PD situations or the ways in which preferences are formed and can change. Many of the concepts the framework uses—e.g., cooperation and defection, the distinction between offense and defense, and the nature of power—are problematical. Issues of beliefs, perceptions, norms, and values also lead to a different perspective on cooperation.
- Research Article
- Copyright © Trustees of Princeton University 1988
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51 Axelrod (fn. i).
53 The relevant literature from experimental psychology is summarized in Larson (fn. 50), 28–29.
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61 Garthoff (fn. 36). Also see Van Evera's discussion (fn. 28) of the role of nationalism in preventing statesmen from objectively gauging the behavior of their own states.
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70 Ibid., 109–13; Richard Ned Lebow, “The Deterrence Deadlock: Is there a Way Out?” in fervis, Lebow, and Stein (fn. 69), 180–202.
71 See Haas, Ernst, “Why Collaborate? Issue-Linkage and International Regimes,” World Politics 32 (April 1980), 357–405CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Robert Rothstein (fn. 37); Jervis, Robert, “Security Regimes,” International Organization 36 (Spring 1982), 359CrossRefGoogle Scholar–60, 373–75; Jack Snyder, “Perceptions of the Security Dilemma in 1941,” in Jervis, Lebow, and Stein (fn. 69).
73 Snyder (fn. 29); Posen (fn. 44).
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76 Some observers have attributed the relative lack of concern in the home country for the German hostages taken in Beirut in January 1987 to the weak German national identity. See James Markham, “West Germans Low-Key About Abductions,” New York Times, January 19, 1987. Compare the reaction of Japan, a country some describe as “a huge tribal society,” in a similar situation: Clyde Haberman, “Japan Outraged at Manila Abduction of Executive,” New York Times, February 15, 1987.
77 This question is an ancient one and can be traced back at least as far as Aristotle's advice that Alexander distinguish among his subjects according to whether they were Greeks or non-Greeks rather than according to their personal, individual characteristics; see The Politics of Aristotle, ed. and trans, by Barker, Ernest (London: Oxford University Press, 1958), 388Google Scholar. For an attempt to use sociobiology to explain national loyalty, see Shaw, R. Paul and Wong, Yuwa, “Ethnic Mobilization and the Seeds of Warfare: An Evolutionary Perspective,” International Studies Quarterly 31 (March 1987), 21–26Google Scholar.
78 Rokeach, Milton and Mezei, Louis, “Race and Shared Belief in Social Choice,” Science 151 (January 1966), 167CrossRefGoogle Scholar–72; Rokeach, , Beliefs, Attitudes, and Values (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1968Google Scholar). Similarly, in the view of the Ottomans, “the community of true believers,... not the state, constitutes the basic Muslim policy, transcending all boundaries.” See Naff, Thomas, “The Ottoman Empire and the European States System,” in Bull, Hedley and Watson, Adam, eds., The Expansion of International Society (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984), 143Google Scholar.
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82 Deutsch (fn. 79), 46.
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85 Kratochwil and Ruggie argue that our standard methodology is inapproprite for verifying the existence of norms in the latter sense because pointing to instances in which norms are violated does not establish that they do not exist or are not important. See Friedrich Kra-tochwil and Gerard Ruggie, John, “International Organization: A State of the Art on an Art of the State,” International Organization 40 (Autumn 1986), 766Google Scholar–69. A more general treatment of norms along these lines is Kratochwil, Friedrich, Rules, Norms, and Decisions: On the Con ditions of Practical and Legal Reasoning in International Relations and Domestic Affairs (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 1988Google Scholar).
86 This question is raised, among other places, in Alker's analyses of how people play and think about Prisoners' Dilemma in the laboratory. See Hayward Alker, Jr., and Roger Hur-wirtz, “Resolving Prisoner's Dilemmas” (unpub., M.I.T.); Alker, “Reflective Resolutions of Sequential Prisoner's Dilemmas,” presented at the meeting of the Society for General Systems Research, May 30, 1985; and Alker, “From Quantity to Quality: A New Research Program on Resolving Sequential Prisoner's Dilemmas,” presented at the 1985 meeting of the American Political Science Association. The incentives and settings of laboratory situations are so different from those operating in international politics, however, that it is far from clear that these experiments tell us much that can be directly transferred.
87 See the following essays, all by Schroeder: “The Lost Intermediaries: The Impact of 1870 on the European System,” International History Review 6 (February 1984), 1–27; “Containment Nineteenth-Century Style: How Russia Was Restrained,” South Atlantic Quarterly 82 (Winter 1983), 1–18; “World War I as Galloping Gertie,” Journal of Modern History 44 (September 1972), 319–45; “The Nineteenth-Century Balance of Power: Language and Theory,” paper delivered at the 1977 meeting of the American Political Science Association; “The 19th-century International System: Changes in the Structure,” World Politics 39 (October 1986), 1–26. Also see Kratochwil, Friedrich, “On the Notion of 'Interest' in International Relations,” International Organization 36 (Winter 1982), 1–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
88 Schroeder, Paul, “Romania and the Great Powers before 1914,” Revue Roumaine D'Histoire 14 (No. 1, 1975), 52–53Google Scholar. As Schroeder puts it in “World War I as Galloping Gertie”: “Everyone wanted a payoff; no one wanted to pay” (fn. 87), 345.
89 Salisbury (fn. 84), 556. During the Eastern Crisis of 1877, William Gladstone asked: “What is to be the consequence to civilisation and humanity, to public order, if British interests are to be the rule for British agents all over the world, and are to be for them the measure of right or wrong?” (Quoted in Seton-Watson, fn. 72, p. 69.) For a related general argument, see Sen, Armatya, “Rational Fools: A Critique of the Behavior Foundations of Economic Theory,” Philosophy and Public Affairs 6 (Summer 1977), 326Google Scholar–41.
91 Staub, Ervin, Positive Social Behavior and Morality, I (New York: Academic Press, 1978), 3Google Scholar.
92 Trivers, , “The Evolution of Reciprocal Altruism,” Quarterly Journal of Biology 46 (March 1971), 50–51Google Scholar. On p. 52, Trivers anticipates Axelrod's arguments about metanorms. A similar argument about deterrence is made by Dean Pruitt, “Some Relationships Between Interpersonal and International Conflict,” in Axelrod et al. (fn. 3).
93 Gouldner, Alvin, “The Norm of Reciprocity,” American Sociological Review 25 (April 1960), 169Google Scholar–71 (emphasis added); also see Larson (fn. 50), 20–22. For a nice summary of the normative hold of reciprocity, see Robert Cialdini, Influence (Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman, 1985), 20–34, and especially the marvelous story on page 27. Staub notes that experiments indicate “that willingness to ask for help is reduced when people do not expect to have an opportunity to provide help in return” (fn. 91, p. 346). The reverse should have been found if rational calculation were the driving force. Also see Charles Kindleberger's review of After Hegemony, “Hierarchy vs. Inertial Cooperation,” International Organization 40 (Autumn 1986), 844–46.
95 Marwell, Gerald and Ames, Ruth, “Economists Free Ride, Does Anyone Else?” Journal of Public Economics 15 (June 1981), 295–310CrossRefGoogle Scholar. I am grateful to Joanne Gowa for referring me to this instructive article. Also see Nemeth, Charlan, “A Critical Analysis of Research Utilizing the Prisoner's Dilemma Paradigm for the Study of Bargaining,” in Berkowitz, Leonard, ed., Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, VI (New York: Academic Press, 1972), 203Google Scholar–34; Kahneman, Daniel, Knetsch, Jack, and Thaler, Richard, “Fairness and the Assumptions of Economics,” Journal of Business 59 (October 1986), S285CrossRefGoogle Scholar–300; Sen (fn. 89). Transcripts of the deliberations during the Cuban missile crisis reveal President Kennedy's concern with perceived fairness: McGeorge Bundy, transcriber, and James Blight, editor, “October 27, 1962: Transcripts of the meetings of the ExComm,” International Security 12 (Winter 1987/88), 30–92.
96 In his presidential address to the Public Choice Society, Dennis Mueller made a similar point: contrary to the logic of PD, in these situations
most of us choose the cooperative strategy most of the time. Why? Because we were taught to do so.... One is almost embarrassed to make these observations were it not that so many of us who work with rational egoist models continually build our models on assumptions that ignore these truisms from psychology and everyday life.
Mueller, “Rational Egoism vs. Adaptive Egoism as a Fundamental Postulate for a Descriptive Theory of Human Behavior,” Public Choice 51 (No. 1, 1986), 5–6.