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Jane Austen, Game Theorist$
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Michael Suk-Young Chwe

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691162447

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691162447.001.0001

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Austen’s Foundations of Game Theory

Austen’s Foundations of Game Theory

(p.97) Chapter Six Austen’s Foundations of Game Theory
Jane Austen, Game Theorist

Michael Suk-Young Chwe

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines Jane Austen's foundations of game theory. Drawing on Austen's six novels, it considers how she carefully establishes game theory's core concepts: choice, preferences, and strategic thinking. A person's preferences are best revealed by her choices, and strategic thinking has several names, including “penetration.” Austen illustrates (the lack of) strategic thinking through her strategic sophomores, characters who think they are skilled but are not. Austen's strategically skilled characters know how to detect a person's preferences by observing their eyes. An inability to make choices can stem from a lack of resolution, which is consistently denounced by Austen. The chapter also discusses Austen's views on commensurability and the idea of “revealed preference” as well as her use of specific terms to refer to strategic thinking, including “penetration,” “foresight,” and “sagacity.”

Keywords:   choice, Jane Austen, game theory, novels, preferences, strategic thinking, strategic sophomores, commensurability, foresight, sagacity

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