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abstract

The aim of this paper is to critically review the game-theoretic discussion of Hobbes and to develop a game-theoretic interpretation that gives due attention both to Hobbes's distinction between “moderates” and “dominators” and to what actually initiates conflict in the state of nature, namely, the competition for vital goods. As can be shown, Hobbes's state of nature contains differently structured situations of choice, the game-theoretic representation of which requires the prisoner's dilemma and the assurance game and the so-called assurance dilemma. However, the “state of war” ultimately emerges from situations that cannot be described by any of these games because they represent zero-sum games in which the outcome of mutual cooperation does not exist.