How does cooperation emerge among selfish individuals? When do people share resources, punish those they consider unfair, and engage in joint enterprises? These questions fascinate philosophers, biologists, and economists alike, for the invisible hand that should turn selfish efforts into public benefit is not always at work. The Calculus of Selfishness looks at social dilemmas where cooperative motivations are subverted and self-interest becomes self-defeating. Karl Sigmund, a pioneer in evolutionary game theory, uses simple and well-known game theory models to examine the foundations of collective action and the effects of reciprocity and reputation. Focusing on some of the best-known social and economic experiments, including games such as the Prisoner's Dilemma, Trust, Ultimatum, Snowdrift, and Public Good, Sigmund explores the conditions leading to cooperative strategies. His approach is based on evolutionary game dynamics, applied to deterministic and probabilistic models of economic interactions. Exploring basic strategic interactions among individuals guided by self-interest and caught in social traps, The Calculus of Selfishness analyzes to what extent one key facet of human nature--selfishness--can lead to cooperation.
From the Back Cover
Karl Sigmund helped conceive the field of evolutionary game theory and has dominated it for over thirty years. With The Calculus of Selfishness , he has written a highly engaging and captivating book for students and experts who want to learn about one of the most fascinating fields of science. When it comes to Karl Sigmund we are all students. This book is written for you and me. --Martin Nowak, Harvard University In this outstanding and beautiful book, Karl Sigmund extends the theory of games to understand how variations in real social situations alter social outcomes. With elegance, he clarifies the results from different studies, fully develops the concepts of reputation and trust, and gives the foundations for moving the discipline to the next level. --Steven Frank, University of California, Irvine