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Review of Prisoners of Reason: Game Theory and Neoliberal Political Economy by S. M. Amadae

Review of Prisoners of Reason: Game Theory and Neoliberal Political Economy by S. M. Amadae

Prisoners of Reason: Game Theory and Neoliberal Political Economy is a book by S. M. Amadae, a professor of political science at Ohio State University and a research fellow at the Academy of Finland. The book, published by Cambridge University Press in 2016, offers a critical analysis of the role of game theory in shaping the neoliberal worldview and its implications for global politics and economics.

Prisoners Of Reason: Game Theory And Neoliberal Political Economy Book Pdf

Game theory is a branch of mathematics that studies strategic interactions among rational agents who pursue their own interests. It has been widely applied to various fields such as economics, political science, biology, psychology, and philosophy. Amadae argues that game theory has been instrumental in promoting a neoliberal vision of society that assumes that individuals are self-interested, rational, and atomistic, and that markets are the best mechanism for coordinating social outcomes. She traces the origins of this vision to the Cold War era, when game theorists such as John von Neumann, Oskar Morgenstern, John Nash, and Thomas Schelling developed models of nuclear deterrence, bargaining, and cooperation that influenced US foreign policy and military strategy.

Amadae contends that game theory has also shaped the neoliberal political economy that emerged in the late 20th century, which advocates for free markets, deregulation, privatization, and minimal state intervention. She shows how game theorists such as Kenneth Arrow, James Buchanan, Ronald Coase, Mancur Olson, and Elinor Ostrom contributed to the development of public choice theory, social choice theory, law and economics, collective action theory, and institutional analysis that challenged the Keynesian welfare state and supported the rise of market fundamentalism. She also examines how game theory has influenced the fields of evolutionary biology and behavioral economics, which attempt to explain human behavior and social preferences in terms of evolutionary adaptation and cognitive biases.

Amadae criticizes game theory for its methodological individualism, rational choice assumption, formalism, and ahistoricism. She argues that game theory fails to account for the social, cultural, moral, and political dimensions of human agency and interaction. She also challenges the normative implications of game theory, which justify inequality, exploitation, domination, and violence as rational outcomes of strategic behavior. She calls for a more pluralistic and democratic approach to social inquiry that recognizes the diversity of human values and interests, the complexity of social structures and institutions, and the possibility of collective action and cooperation for social change.

Prisoners of Reason: Game Theory and Neoliberal Political Economy is a comprehensive and provocative critique of game theory and its impact on contemporary society. It is an essential read for anyone interested in the history and philosophy of game theory, the political economy of neoliberalism, and the prospects for global justice. e0e6b7cb5c


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