Toward a History of Game Theory (1992)

Toward a History of Game Theory. 1992. Edited by E. Roy Weintraub. Supplement to volume 24 of HOPE. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

"Introduction," by E. Roy Weintraub (pp. 3–12). For several reasons, the collective history here is less a finished product and more a prolegomena: the conventional history of game theory is easy to narrate, there was confusion about the origins of game theory, game theory was not inititally well received by economists, and the present importance of game theory can produce Whiggish accounts.

Part 1: Creating Game Theory

"The Early History of the Theory of Strategic Games from Waldegrave to Borel," by Robert W. Dimand and Mary Ann Dimand (pp. 15–27). Von Neumann and Morgenstern's 1944 book marked an important advance, but it built on an existing literature on strategic games to which the two had contributed.

"Creating a Context for Game Theory," by Robert J. Leonard (pp. 29–76). Von Neumann and Morgenstern's 1944 book focused the attention of mathematicians and their patrons on an inchoate body of applied mathematics which World War II had made relevant.

"New Insights into the Collaboration between John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern on the Theory of Games and Economic Behavior," by Urs Rellstab (pp. 77–93). Von Neumann elaborated his theory of games beginning in the late 1920s, before his collaboration with Morgenstern started, and there is no evidence that Morgenstern wrote anything about games before he began working with von Neumann.

"Oskar Morgenstern's Contribution to the Development of the Theory of Games," by Andrew Schotter (pp. 95–112). Morgenstern was a visionary constantly on the lookout for the new and unusual, and it was his visionary quality that combined so well with von Neumann's mathematical abilities.

"What Were von Neumann and Morgenstern Trying to Accomplish?," by Philip Mirowski (pp. 113–47). The orthodox story of game theory is riddled with gaps and inconsistencies and is blind to the fact that von Neumann did not regard economics as the focal point of game theory's development.

Part 2: The Diffusion of Game-Theoretic Ideas

"Game Theory at Princeton, 1949–1955: A Personal Reminiscence," by Martin Shubik (pp. 151–63). Morgenstern's role is underrated, and though not a mathematician, he was clearly aware of many of the big problems in economics and was energetic enough and visionary enough to do something about them.

"Game Theory at the University of Michigan, 1948–1952," by Howard Raiffa (pp. 165–75). Game theory may have been unknown at Michigan until 1948, when Arthur Copeland Sr. had students work through von Neumann and Morgenstern's account of the extensive-form game.

"Mathematizing Social Science in the 1950s: The Early Development and Diffusion of Game Theory," by Angela M. O'Rand (pp. 177–204). The rational and social characteristics of the game theory program—its epistemic culture—distinguished it from other developing programs in the social sciences.

Part 3: Crossing Disciplinary Boundaries

"The Entry of Game Theory into Political Science," by William H. Riker (pp. 207–23). Several features of game theory made it fit in with political science, such as its uncompromising rationalism and its emphasis on free choice.

"Operations Research and Game Theory: Early Connections," by Robin E. Rider (pp. 225–39). Operations research and game theory seized the imagination of experts and amateurs alike, as the time was ripe for the wider application of operations research in industry and government.

"Game Theory and Experimental Economics: Beginnings and Early Influences," by Vernon L. Smith (pp. 241–82). A personal account of the development of experimental economics and its game-theoretic origins discusses the author's debt to Edward Chamberlin, reports the perceptions of people like Martin Shubik and Herbert Simon, and discusses the 1952 Santa Monica Seminar, among other things, concluding that after 1975 experimental economics grew so much that it then deserved its own treatment.