MATH 190: Democracy, Game Theory and Persuasion

Spring 2019

Instructor: Astrid Giugni, Hubert Bray

What is a fair election? What kinds of elections favor centrist, consensus building candidates, from a game theoretic point of view? What is the best way for a politician to persuade while still being truthful?

This course will explore these questions from both quantitative and qualitative perspectives. Dr. Bray will use game theory to discuss the meaning of democracy. The course examines the pros and cons of different approaches to voting, such as preferential ballot elections and ranked pairs voting, and introduces game theory as an essential tool for predicting political behavior.

At the same time, Dr. Giugni will introduce the class to the central literature and theories of political persuasion in the face of disagreement. We will focus on which rhetorical strategies have been embraced or viewed with suspicion by theorists, from Plato to Hobbes, as well as adopted in imaginative literature, from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar to Walter Miller’s sci-fi classic A Canticle for Leibowitz. This course will ask you to think carefully about the practical and theoretical preconditions for life in a democracy.

Readings may include: Plato’s Gorgias, Aristotle’s Rhetoric (selections), Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Hobbes’ Leviathan (selections), Milton’s Aeropagitica, Rousseau’s Social Contract (selections), Walter M. Miller, A Canticle for Leibowitz (first two books)

  • ENGLISH 190-1; ISS 190-01
Curriculum Codes