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Game Theory and Canadian Politics

Game Theory and Canadian Politics

Copyright Date: 1998
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Game Theory and Canadian Politics
    Book Description:

    The first book-length application of game theory to Canadian politics. It uses a series of case studies, taken from real life political situations, to illustrate fundamental concepts of game theory.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7515-5
    Subjects: Political Science, Mathematics

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. 1 Rational Choice
    (pp. 3-19)

    Game theory belongs to a family of methodologies variously known as rational choice, public choice, social choice, and collective choice. At bottom, all are spinoffs from the discipline of economics, employing the concept ofhomo economicusor ʹeconomic man,ʹ first developed by John Stuart Mill. Political economy, according to Mill, studies man ʹsolely as a being who desires to possess wealth, and who is capable of judging of the comparative efficacy of means for obtaining that end.ʹ¹ Rational choice and related approaches attempt to use this simplified concept of human nature to explain a much wider range of behaviour than...

  5. 2 Game Theory
    (pp. 20-36)

    Game theory is a branch of mathematics involving models of situations in which outcomes are interdependent. That is, no player can determine the result by himself, for the outcome arises from the interplay of the choices made by all the players. A game model requires the following elements: players, rules of the game, strategies, payoffs, and a solution (or solutions).

    Players are assumed to be rational actors armed with ordinal or cardinal utility functions. There must be two or more players.

    Rules of the game define the limits of action – what can and cannot be done in the game....

  6. 3 Stalemate at Lubicon Lake
    (pp. 37-54)

    As we saw in the preceding chapter, the minimax solution of two-person zero-sum games is mathematically elegant and satisfying, but few political situations can be realistically modelled by such games. Hence, two-person zero-sum games are of limited use in political science. However, variable-sum games – those in which the payoffs in the various cells add up to different totals – are applicable to a much wider variety of situations.

    Table 3.1 is a simple example of the famous Prisonerʹs Dilemma game, which is widely used as a model in political science. It is presented here, however, only as an illustration...

  7. 4 Models of Metrication
    (pp. 55-73)

    The history of metrication in Canada furnishes excellent examples of the difficulties of implementing public policy. It is tempting for policy makers to think of themselves as artists painting on an empty canvas or sculptors working with clay, but policy implementation is more like a contest of forces. Policy initiatives are always met by popular reactions, and the final result is often different – sometimes wildly different – from what the policy makers intended. Game theory can be of considerable help in modelling what happens in such processes.

    Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the countries of the world have...

  8. 5 How Many Are Too Many? The Size of Coalitions
    (pp. 74-92)

    Two-person games, as employed up to this point, have real but limited application to politics. There are occasional head-to-head contests in politics, such as the Lubicon deadlock, but most political conflicts involve more than two players. Even contests that might be considered two-person games for certain purposes, such as the electoral struggle between the Democrats and Republicans in the United States, are in another perspective better seen as conflicts between two large segments of the population – that is, between coalitions.

    The fundamental unit of political activity is the coalition, defined by one scholar as ʹthe joining of forces by...

  9. 6 Whoʹs Got the Power? Amending the Canadian Constitution
    (pp. 93-104)

    In the last week of the 1995 referendum campaign, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien promised to give Quebec a veto over constitutional amendments. Granting this long-standing demand of Quebec politicians was supposed to make Quebeckers more likely to vote against separation in the referendum. After a narrow victory for the No side, the prime minister then had to deliver on his promise. Since a unilateral veto for Quebec would never be acceptable to the rest of Canada, his legal advisers came up with a way of generalizing the veto by granting it to the several major regions of the country. On...

  10. 7 The ʹRight Stuffʹ: Choosing a Party Leader
    (pp. 105-119)

    The leader of a political party needs to have wide support throughout the organization. To win an election, donors have to give money, activists have to work in the campaign, and voters have to turn out on election day. Any or all of those efforts could be hampered if large segments of the party dislike the leader. This situation is obviously true in a U.S.-style presidential system, where popular votes are cast directly for the partyʹs leader as candidate for president; and it is equally true in a modern parliamentary system like Canadaʹs, where the pervasive influence of the mass...

  11. 8 The Staying Power of the Status Quo
    (pp. 120-139)

    In itsMorgentalerdecision of January 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the centrepiece of Canadaʹs abortion law, section 251 of the Criminal Code. The court held that it conflicted with section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees the ʹsecurity of the person.ʹ This ruling radically changed the legal status quo; it was as if Parliament had repealed that section of the Criminal Code without passing a replacement amendment.

    However, the justices in their opinions invited Parliament to try its hand at new legislation. Justice Bertha Wilson hinted broadly that a gestational approach, with...

  12. 9 Invasion from the Right: The Reform Party in the 1993 Election
    (pp. 140-163)

    Up to this point, the models presented in this book have dealt with situations ofdiscrete choice.Such situations involve making the best choice among a small number of clearly distinct strategies: cooperate or defect; bat left or right; use metric or imperial; vote for Nystrom, McDonough, or Robinson; and so on. But the real world also presents situations ofcontinuous choice, where there is an infinite number of strategies differing by inappreciable degrees. For example, if you are planning the budget of a Canadian election campaign, you could think of spending any amount between a minimum of zero and...

  13. 10 What Have We Learned?
    (pp. 164-172)

    As a branch of mathematics, game theory is an intellectual edifice of assumptions and theorems, to be judged by standards of deductive logic. Like all of mathematics, game theory is a tautology whose conclusions are true because they are contained in the premises. Even if game theory told us nothing about the real world of government and politics, it would have its own beauty and integrity as an intellectual structure.

    In this book, however, I have proceeded on the assumption that game-theoretic models can represent the real world of Canadian politics in an enlightening way. Game theory depicts rational actors...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 173-186)
  15. Index
    (pp. 187-190)