Game Theory as a Model for Business and Business Ethics

Business Ethics Quarterly 9 (1):11-29 (1999)
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Fifty years ago, two Princeton professors established game theory as an important new branch of applied mathematics. Gametheory has become a celebrated discipline in its own right, and it now plays a prestigious role in many disciplines, including ethics,due in particular to the neo-Hobbesian thinking of David Gauthier and others. Now it is perched at the edge of business ethics. I believethat it is dangerous and demeaning. It makes us look the wrong way at business, reinforcing a destructive obsession with measurableoutcomes and a false sense of competition. It falsely characterizes or insidiously advocates a style of human behavior that is utterlyunacceptable. To put the matter quite crudely, a person who actually practiced the form of "rationality" advocated by game theory wouldbe something of a monster



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