Posted by: captainfalcon | May 5, 2010

Really Promising Blog

This blog – “Formal Methods in Political Philosophy” – just had its inaugural post. I thought it was pitched just right, i.e. easily followed by someone to whom these things don’t come naturally, but it didn’t belabor the point. (It also isn’t just about political philosophy – Wolff plans, for example, to assess the uses of game theory in nuclear deterrence theory.)  Here is his schedule:

The order of exposition is going to be as follows:

1. Some preliminary technical matters, principally concerning different kinds of orderings.

2. The elements of Rational Choice Theory.

3. The elements of Collective Choice Theory, including a formal proof of Kenneth Arrow’s General Possibility Theorem, which is the central formal result in the field.

4. The elements of Game Theory, maybe [if you have the stomach for it] including a formal proof of von Neumann’s Fundamental Theorem concerning two person zero-sum games with mixed strategies.

5. A formal analysis of John Rawls’ claims concerning choice in the Original Position in A Theory of Justice.

6. A formal analysis of Robert Nozick’s claims in Anarchy, State, and Utopia.

7. The misuse of Game Theory in nuclear deterrence theory.

8. A general discussion of misuses of the formal materials in treatments of so-called Free Rider problems and other matters. Depending on your endurance and interest, I may at this point discuss the use of formal models and materials in legal theorizing and other areas.

Because he retired from UMass last year, he has a lot of time on his hands and is more than willing to answer questions in the comments. His memoirs are also an awesome read, but they’re completely different (obviously) from what promises to be a course on rational choice, collective choice and game theory.



  1. Excellent find; much appreciated.

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