Under what conditions will cooperation emerge in a world of egoists without central authority? …cooperation does occur…. answer has fundamental affect….
Hobbes answer was pessimistic…Ever since … arguments about scope of government are can cooperation emerge without policing authority
Relevant especially to international relations, everyday reciprocity, legislation
Approach here: make simple assumptions about individual motives and deduce consequences for entire system


Hayek argued that agents that follow pro-social rules can create social order without central authority. Schelling showed how even without anti-social rules, interaction can yield unfavored outcomes (coordination yes, cooperation no). Adam Smith argued that you have to start from the premise that people have different skills and such and that their complementarity means that working together they can increase the size of the pie they will split. But this still assumes cooperation. Axelrod takes up the challenge of why we can expect that these bargains can be struck. The short answer, the secret of society, is "repeated play."


Robert Axelrod (born 1943) is a professor of political science and public policy (his actual title is "Professor of Human Understanding") at the University of Michigan. His work on human cooperation, complexity, and emergence makes use of game theory, mathematics, and agent-based modeling.