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Should you watch public television without pledging?...Exceed the posted speed limit?...Hop a subway turnstile without paying? These questions illustrate the so-called "prisoner's dilemma", a social puzzle that we all face every day. Though the answers may seem simple, their profound implications make the prisoner's dilemma one of the great unifying concepts of science. Watching players bluff in a poker game inspired John von Neumann—father of the modern computer and one of the sharpest minds of the century—to construct game theory, a mathematical study of conflict and deception. Game theory was readily embraced at the RAND Corporation, the archetypical think tank charged with formulating military strategy for the atomic age, and in 1950 two RAND scientists made a momentous discovery. Called the "prisoner's dilemma," it is a disturbing and mind-bending game where two or more people may betray the common good for individual gain. Introduced shortly after the Soviet Union acquired the atomic bomb, the prisoner's dilemma quickly became a popular allegory of the nuclear arms race. Intellectuals such as von Neumann and Bertrand Russell joined military and political leaders in rallying to the "preventive war" movement, which advocated a nuclear first strike against the Soviet Union. Though the Truman administration rejected preventive war the United States entered into an arms race with the Soviets and game theory developed into a controversial tool of public policy—alternately accused of justifying arms races and touted as the only hope of preventing them. A masterful work of science writing, Prisoner's Dilemma weaves together a biography of the brilliant and tragic von Neumann, a history of pivotal phases of the cold war, and an investigation of game theory's far-reaching influence on public policy today. Most important, Prisoner's Dilemma is the incisive story of a revolutionary idea that has been hailed as a landmark of twentieth-century thought.
Rethinking the category of aesthetics in light of recent developments in literary theory and social criticism, the contributors to this volume showcase the interpretive possibilities available to those who bring politics, culture, ideology, and conceptions of identity into their critiques. Essays combine close readings of individual works and authors with more theoretical discussions of aesthetic theory and its relation to American literature. In their introduction, Weinstein and Looby argue that aesthetics never left American literary critique. Instead, the essay casts the current "return to aesthetics" as the natural consequence of shortcomings in deconstruction and new historicism, which led to a reconfiguration of aesthetics. Subsequent essays demonstrate the value and versatility of aesthetic considerations in literature, from eighteenth-century poetry to twentieth-century popular music. Organized into four groups—politics, form, gender, and theory—contributors revisit the canonical works of Henry James, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Stephen Crane, introduce the overlooked texts of Constance Fenimore Woolson and Earl Lind, and unpack the complexities of the music of The Carpenters. Deeply rooted in an American context, these essays explore literature's aesthetic dimensions in connection to American liberty and the formation of political selfhood. Contributors include Edward Cahill, Ivy G. Wilson, June Ellison, Dorri Beam, Christopher Castiglia, Christopher Looby, Wendy Steiner, Cindy Weinstein, Trish Loughran, Jonathan Freedman, Elisa New, Dorothy Hale, Mary Esteve, Eric Lott, Sianne Ngai
An epic story of science and technology at the very limits of human understanding: the monumental race to build the first atomic weapons. Rich in personality, action, confrontation, and deception, The First War of Physics is the first fully realized popular account of the race to build humankind's most destructive weapon. The book draws on declassified material, such as MI6's Farm Hall transcripts, coded soviet messages cracked by American cryptographers in the Venona project, and interpretations by Russian scholars of documents from the soviet archives. Jim Baggott weaves these threads into a dramatic narrative that spans ten historic years, from the discovery of nuclear fission in 1939 to the aftermath of 'Joe-1,’ August 1949's first Soviet atomic bomb test. Why did physicists persist in developing the atomic bomb, despite the devastation that it could bring? Why, despite having a clear head start, did Hitler's physicists fail? Could the soviets have developed the bomb without spies like Klaus Fuchs or Donald Maclean? Did the allies really plot to assassinate a key member of the German bomb program? Did the physicists knowingly inspire the arms race? The First War of Physics is a grand and frightening story of scientific ambition, intrigue, and genius: a tale barely believable as fiction, which just happens to be historical fact.
Economics is often defined as the science of choice or human action. But choice and action are essentially mental phenomena, an aspect rarely mentioned in the economics discourse. Choice, while not always a conscious or rational process, is held to involve beliefs, desires, intentions and arguably even free will. Actions are often opposed to mere bodily movements, with the former being in some sense only understandable in reference to mental processes while the latter are understandable in entirely non-mental, physical terms. While philosophers have long concerned themselves with the connections between these concepts, economists have tended to steer clear of what might appear to be an a priori debate. At the same time, philosophers working on these important notions have tended to not dirty their hands with the empirical, real-world applications in which economists are specialized. This volume fills these gaps by bringing economists and philosophers of mind together to explore the intersection of their disciplines.
Under what conditions is a group of scientists rational? How would rational scientists collectively agree to make their group more effective? What sorts of negotiations would occur among them and under what conditions? What effect would their final agreement have on science and society? These questions have been central to the philosophy of science for the last two decades. In this 2007 book, Husain Sarkar proposes answers to them by building on classical solutions - the skeptical view, two versions of the subjectivist view, the objectivist view, and the view of Hilary Putnam. Although he finds these solutions not completely adequate, Sarkar retrieves what is of value from them and also expropriates the arguments of John Rawls and Amartya Sen, in order to weave a richer, deeper, and more developed theory of group rationality.
The impact agenda is set to shape the way in which social scientists prioritise the work they choose to pursue, the research methods they use and how they publish their findings over the coming decade, but how much is currently known about how social science research has made a mark on society? Based on a three year research project studying the impact of 360 UK-based academics on business, government and civil society sectors, this groundbreaking new book undertakes the most thorough analysis yet of how academic research in the social sciences achieves public policy impacts, contributes to economic prosperity, and informs public understanding of policy issues as well as economic and social changes. The Impact of the Social Sciences addresses and engages with key issues, including: identifying ways to conceptualise and model impact in the social sciences developing more sophisticated ways to measure academic and external impacts of social science research explaining how impacts from individual academics, research units and universities can be improved. This book is essential reading for researchers, academics and anyone involved in discussions about how to improve the value and impact of funded research. You can read a snapshot of the results, Visualising the Data, free online. To download a PDF click here, or to browse a flipbook, click here.
It all started with von Neumann and Morgenstern half a century ago. Their Theory of Games and Economic Behavior gave birth to a whole new area of mathematics concerned with the formal problems of rational decision as experienced by multiple agents. Now, game theory is all around us, making its way even into regular conversations. In the present book, Mehlmann presents mathematical foundations and concepts illustrated via social quandaries, mock political battles, evolutionary confrontations, economic struggles, and literary conflict. Most of the standard models--the prisoners' dilemma, the arms race, evolution, duels, the game of chicken, etc.--are here. Many non-standard examples are also here: the Legend of Faust, shootouts in the movies, the Madness of Odysseus, to name a few. The author uses familiar formulas, fables, and paradoxes to guide readers through what he calls the ``hall of mirrors of strategic decision-making''. His light-hearted excursion into the world of strategic calculation shows that even deep insights into the nature of strategic thought can be elucidated by games, puzzles, and diversions. Originally written in German and published by Vieweg-Verlag, this AMS edition is a translation tailored for the English-speaking reader. It offers an intriguing look at myths and paradoxes through the lens of game theory, bringing the mathematics into sharper focus at the same time. This book is a must for those who wish to consider game theory from a different perspective: one that embraces science, literature, and real-life conflict. The Game's Afoot! would make an excellent book for an undergraduate course in game theory. It can also be used for independent study or as supplementary course reading. The connections to literature, films and everyday life also make it highly suitable as a text for a challenging course for non-majors. Its refreshing style and amusing combination of game theoretic analysis and cultural issues even make it appealing as recreational reading.

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