An Introduction to the Use of Formal Methods in Political Philosophy

Robert Paul Wolff, edited by Michael Hemmingsen

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Area: Political Philosophy

Chapters

Part I: Technical Details
Part II: The Elements of Rational Choice Theory
Part III: The Elements of Game Theory
Part IV: Collective Choice Theory
Part V. Applications
First Application: The Dreaded Prisoner’s Dilemma
Second Application: John Rawls’ Theory of Justice
Third Application: Refutation of a Proposed Proof of Rawls’ Difference Principle
Fourth Application: Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia
Fifth Application: Game Theory and Grand Military Strategy in the Nuclear Age


Political Theory has been transformed in the last thirty years by the introduction of methods of analysis imported from mathematics and economics. Modern students of the subject need to know something about Rational Choice Theory, Game Theory, and Collective Choice Theory if they are to be able to master contemporary discussions. This little book, by well-known philosopher Robert Paul Wolff, lays out the elements of these technical subjects in a precise fashion that achieves a sprightly accessibility without sacrificing formal rigor. In the second part of the book, Wolff applies the formal materials to the writings of John Rawls, Robert Nozick, and others with a penetrating and sceptical wit. A useful supplement to the standard readings in undergraduate and graduate courses.