The dark side of the force : economic foundations of conflict theory


The dark side of the force : economic foundations of conflict theory

Jack Hirshleifer

Cambridge University Press, 2001

  • : [hard]
  • : pbk

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Includes bibliographical references and indexes



The central tradition of mainline economics deals with one way of making a living; producing goods and services. But there is another way of getting ahead through conflict or the 'dark side', by appropriating what others have produced. Parallel to military aggression and resistance, the dark side includes non-military activities such as litigation, strikes and lockouts, takeover contests, and bureaucratic back-biting struggles. This volume brings the analysis of conflict into the mainstream of economics. Part I explores the causes, conduct, and consequences of conflict as an economic activity. Part II delves deeply into the evolutionary sources of our capacities, physical and mental, for both conflict and cooperation. The introductory chapter of the volume, which outlines the significance of the dark side, was the author's 1993 Presidential Address to the Western Economic Association. Other chapters investigate economic models, historical discussions, experimental tests, and applications to topics in political science and law.


  • Introduction
  • 1. The dark side of the force
  • Part I. Causes, Consequences and Conduct of Conflict: 2. The bioeconomic causes of war
  • 3. The paradox of power
  • 4. Do the rich get richer and the poor poorer? Experimental tests of a model of power
  • 5. Conflict and rent-seeking success functions: ration vs. difference models of relative success
  • 6. Anarchy and its breakdown
  • 7. Truth, effort, and the legal battle
  • 8. Are equilibrium strategies unaffected by incentives?
  • Part II. Evolutionary Approaches to Conflict and its Resolution: 9. Extract from evolutionary models in economics and law: cooperation versus conflict strategies
  • 10. On the emotions as guarantors of threats and promises
  • 11. What strategies can support the evolutionary emergence of cooperation?
  • 12. Selection, mutation, and the preservation of diversity in evolutionary games
  • 13. There are many evolutionary pathways to cooperation
  • 14. The expanding domain of economics.

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