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Game Theory

Autor:   •  March 8, 2011  •  Essay  •  589 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,478 Views

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It is always notoriously difficult to identify precisely what constitutes a revolutionary

change within a scientific discipline (Kuhn 1962). In the fields of animal behavior

(ethology) and behavioral ecology, the introduction of inclusive fitness models (Hamilton

1963, 1964) may qualify as such a change in that they reshaped the manner in

which behavioral ecologists and ethologists think about nearly every question they

address. The subject of this book, game theory, may rank second to inclusive fitness

in terms of its effect on the way animal behaviorists currently approach issues surrounding

the evolution of social behavior. However, evolutionary game theory's fundamental

principle—that actions taken by one individual have effects on the fitness

of others and that all such effects must be accounted for when examining the evolution

of a trait—has had a large enough impact that phrases like "payoff matrix" and

"evolutionarily stable strategies" are used by virtually all pundits of behavioral ecology

and animal behavior and are among the first concepts taught in graduate classes.

Furthermore, the idea of an evolutionarily stable strategy (ESS) has surpassed the

boundaries of ethology and behavioral ecology and can often be heard being uttered

by the likes of political scientists, mathematicians, and psychologists. It is certainly

rare for mathematical terminology created by behavioral ecologists to be adopted

outside the field, and this stands as a testament to the influence of ethological game


Hardly an issue of such journals as Animal Behaviour, Behavioral Ecology, Behavioral

Ecology and Sociobiology (to name a few of the top journals in the field),

or for that matter The Journal of Theoretical Biology is published in which at least

one, and usually more, articles cite some reference to evolutionary game theory (most

often Maynard Smith's 1982 book, Evolution and the Theory of Games). Yet, to date,

there is no place where one can turn for a large-scale picture which not only reviews


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