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Economic Learning and Social Evolution

This text offers a systematic, rigorous, and unified presentation of evolutionary game theory, covering the core developments of the theory from its inception in biology in the 1970s through recent advances. Evolutionary game theory, which studies the behavior of large populations of strategically interacting agents, is used by economists to make predictions in settings where traditional assumptions about agents' rationality and knowledge may not be justified.

This volume brings together all of Ken Binmore's influential experimental papers on bargaining along with newly written commentary in which Binmore discusses the underlying game theory and addresses the criticism leveled at it by behavioral economists.

The Foundations of Cooperation in Economic Life

Moral Sentiments and Material Interests presents an innovative synthesis of research in different disciplines to argue that cooperation stems not from the stereotypical selfish agent acting out of disguised self-interest but from the presence of "strong reciprocators" in a social group.

Economists have traditionally studied aggregate behavior as the outcome of individual decisions made interactively, while sociologists have focused on the role of social influences on individual behavior. Over the past decade, however, the barriers between the disciplines have broken down, resulting in the new area of social economics.

Evolutionary game theory attempts to predict individual behavior (whether of humans or other species) when interactions between individuals are modeled as a noncooperative game. Most dynamic analyses of evolutionary games are based on their normal forms, despite the fact that many interesting games are specified more naturally through their extensive forms.

Evolutionary game theory is one of the most active and rapidly growing areas of research in economics. Unlike traditional game theory models, which assume that all players are fully rational and have complete knowledge of details of the game, evolutionary models assume that people choose their strategies through a trial-and-error learning process in which they gradually discover that some strategies work better than others. In games that are repeated many times, low-payoff strategies tend to be weeded out, and an equilibrium may emerge.

In economics, most noncooperative game theory has focused on equilibrium in games, especially Nash equilibrium and its refinements. The traditional explanation for when and why equilibrium arises is that it results from analysis and introspection by the players in a situation where the rules of the game, the rationality of the players, and the players' payoff functions are all common knowledge. Both conceptually and empirically, this theory has many problems.