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Review: Anarchy, Egoism, and Third Images: The Evolution of Cooperation and International Relations

Reviewed Work: The Evolution of Cooperation. by Robert Axelrod
Review by: Joanne Gowa
International Organization
Vol. 40, No. 1 (Winter, 1986), pp. 167-186
Published by: The MIT Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2706746
Page Count: 20
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Anarchy, Egoism, and Third Images: The Evolution of Cooperation and International Relations
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Abstract

Robert Axelrod argues that cooperation can evolve among egoists in an anarchic setting. Relying on an analytical framework based on the Prisoner's Dilemma (PD) game, Axelrod suggests that states as well as individuals might benefit from the"theory of cooperation" he develops and the "advice for participants and reformers" he offers. The utility of Axelrod's theory and advice to the study and practice of international relations is the focus of this review. Two problems are addressed which limit the applicability of Axelrod's analysis: neither anarchy nor egoism is as pervasive in international relations as in Axelrod's iterated PD game; and the exclusive use of a third image framework understates the influence of unit-level factors on patterns of conflict and exaggerates the utility of Axelrod's advice to states stuck in the equivalent of international PDs. Despite these limitations, the work remains of major significance for students of international relations.

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