Theory of Moves

Steven J. Brams’ Theory of Moves, though based on the classical theory of games, proposes changes in its rules to render it a truly dynamic theory. By postulating that players think ahead not just to the immediate consequences of making moves, but also to the consequences of countermoves to these moves, counter-countermoves, and so on, it extends the strategic analysis of conflicts into the more distant future. It elucidates the role that different kinds of power - moving, order and threat - may have on conflict outcomes, and it also shows how misinformation affects player choices. Applied to a series of cases drawn from politics, economics, sociology, fiction and the Bible, the theory provides not only a parsimonious explanation of their outcomes, but also shows why they unfolded as they did. This book, which assumes no prior knowledge of game theory or special mathematical background, will be of interest to scholars and students throughout the social sciences.

• Clear and accessible text on an unorthodox approach to the study of game theory, by a leading, but controversial, name in the field • Planned coverage in Nature and New Scientist • Will be accessible to politics and IR students (maths is not very heavy), but also of interest to economists and mathematicians interested in games


1. Rules of play: the starting point matters; 2. The anticipation problem: there may be no resolution; 3. Magnanimity: it sometimes pays; 4. Moving power: breaking the cycle; 5. Order and threat power: eliminating indeterminacy and communicating intentions; 6. Information in games: misperceptions, deception, and omniscience; 7. Incomplete information in larger games: a model of negotiations; 8. Summary and conclusions.


‘ … should provide interesting reading to those who favour the direct interplay between the method and its applications … contributes to an important debate on the current directions of the game theory research program, especially in its extension to political science and international relations.’ Public Choice