Games 2014, 5(1), 53-89; doi:10.3390/g5010053

Schelling, von Neumann, and the Event that Didn’t Occur

Received: 19 August 2013; in revised form: 10 December 2013 / Accepted: 31 January 2014 / Published: 25 February 2014
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Abstract: Thomas Schelling was recognized by the Nobel Prize committee as a pioneer in the application of game theory and rational choice analysis to problems of politics and international relations. However, although he makes frequent references in his writings to this approach, his main explorations and insights depend upon and require acknowledgment of its limitations. One of his principal concerns was how a country could engage in successful deterrence. If the behavioral assumptions that commonly underpin game theory are taken seriously and applied consistently, however, nuclear adversaries are almost certain to engage in devastating conflict, as John von Neumann forcefully asserted. The history of the last half century falsified von Neumann’s prediction, and the “event that didn’t occur” formed the subject of Schelling’s Nobel lecture. The answer to the question “why?” is the central concern of this paper.
Keywords: game theory; deterrence; nuclear strategy; Schelling; von Neumann
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MDPI and ACS Style

Field, A.J. Schelling, von Neumann, and the Event that Didn’t Occur. Games 2014, 5, 53-89.

AMA Style

Field AJ. Schelling, von Neumann, and the Event that Didn’t Occur. Games. 2014; 5(1):53-89.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Field, Alexander J. 2014. "Schelling, von Neumann, and the Event that Didn’t Occur." Games 5, no. 1: 53-89.

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