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Game Theory, Diplomatic History and Security Studies$
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Frank C. Zagare

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198831587

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198831587.001.0001

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(p.161) Postscript
Game Theory, Diplomatic History and Security Studies

Frank C. Zagare

Oxford University Press

In this chapter, developments in game theory over time are summarized, and the utility of game theory for analyzing conflictual interstate relationships is evaluated. The most important point to be taken from the collection of analytic narratives in this book is game theory’s ability to deliver an explicit causal mechanism upon which explanations can be constructed, and to do this in a transparent and logically consistent way. Game models, by their very nature, facilitate the assessment of logical consistency, minimize the probability of its absence, and encourage counterfactual or “off-the-equilibrium-path” reasoning, allowing for contingent theorizing inter alia. Causal mechanisms are especially valuable because they provide the element of necessity absent in standard (historical) narratives. Nonetheless, game-theoretic knowledge, like all knowledge, is always provisional, so an attitude of intellectual modesty, not arrogance, is the proper one.

Keywords:   game theory, analytic narrative, causal mechanism, logical consistency, off-the-equilibrium-path reasoning

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