Political Science Publications

Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date


First Page


Last Page



Game theory is used to rationally and dispassionately examine the strategic behaviour of nations, especially superpower behaviour. This article explains how basic game theory - at its simplest level - was used by Anatol Rapoport to generate ideas about how to enhance world peace. Rapoport was at the forefront of the game theoreticians who sought to conceptualize strategies that could promote international cooperation. Accordingly, the basic logic of game theory is explained using the game models of ‘Chicken’ and ‘Prisoner’s Dilemma’. These models were used by Rapoport in his books and lectures in simple and complex ways. Then Rapoport’s revolutionary ideas about how to promote international and national cooperation are overviewed. He developed a simple strategy called Tit for Tat which won two computer tournaments. He suggested that applying his strategy to real-life problems could help prevent human vulnerability and minimize conflict. Finally, this essay considers the inherent dangers of game theory and nuclear deterrence as Rapoport taught scholars to contemplate their risks.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.