Game Theory and Law

Yesterday The New York Times magazine profiled Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, who was a professor of mine at Stanford and is a leading figure in using game theory to predict political and social outcomes.  His was the best class that I ever took as an undergraduate.  (Honestly, ten years out of school, how many classes do you look back on and think, “Wow, that was really terrific.”)  One lesson from that course that I took into my legal scholarship is that you have to study near-misses as well as successes to understand a phenomenon. He made us look at foreign policy crises that did not lead to wars and asked “Why not?”  This is pretty good model for thinking about law, especially in the constitutional area.  Indeed, my forthcoming book on the Populists and article on the defeat of the Child Labor Amendment apply that concept aggressively and yield some interesting insights as a result.

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