Some Thoughts on Michael Chwe’s „Jane Austen, Applied Game Theorist”

Marek M. Kamiński


The article examines the decision-making components of Jane Austen’s six major novels as reconstructed in Michael Chwe’s book and his argument that Austen was a precursor of game theory. In her novels, Austen describes an abundance of strategic situations in the mating process within the British higher classes. Social constraints made mating within this world a tough game due to harsh punishments for failure, especially for women, and severe limitation on signaling interest or sympathy. Austen cleverly investigates this environment and reconstructs many aspects of strategic behavior that have their counterparts in formal concepts of game and decision theory. While she hasn’t made contributions to theory per se, she deserves being named a precursor of applied strategic thinking and an expert on a particular strategically sophisticated social environment.

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Jane Austen, game theory, decision theory, mating

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