On Hobbes's state of nature and game theory

Crettez, Bertrand
December 2017
Theory & Decision;Dec2017, Vol. 83 Issue 4, p499
Academic Journal
Hobbes's state of nature is often analyzed in two-person two-action non-cooperative games. By definition, this literature only focuses on duels. Yet, if we consider general games, i.e., with more than two agents, analyzing Hobbes's state of nature in terms of duel is not completely satisfactory, since it is a very specific interpretation of the war of all against all. Therefore, we propose a definition of the state of nature for games with an arbitrary number of players. We show that this definition coincides with the strategy profile considered as the state of nature in two-person games. Furthermore, we study what we call rational states of nature (that is, strategy profiles which are both states of nature and Nash equilibria). We show that in rational states of nature, the utility level of any agent is equal to his maximin payoff. We also show that rational states of nature always exist in inessential games. Finally, we prove the existence of states of nature in a class of (not necessarily inessential) symmetric games.


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