The Economics Of Duels

Lynne Kiesling

Today Tyler Cowen has an interesting post on duels. At the ISNIE conference in Tucson in September, Doug Allen from Simon Fraser University presented a paper entitled “The Duel of Honor: Screening for Unobservable Social Capital” (co-authored with Clyde Reed). Unfortunately, Doug’s not got it on his website, nor is it available from ISNIE, but here’s an older version. The title tells a lot about the direction of the paper. Doug and Clyde study the institution of dueling as a screening device as opposed to a signaling device, which is the typical interpretation of dueling that Tyler mentioned in his post. Looking at dueling as a screening device means looking at some of the cultural and socioeconomic limitations on who could and who could not settle disputes through duels; you had to be of a certain social standing in many cases to duel without opprobrium.

One thought on “The Economics Of Duels

  1. Tyler’s theory of duels is essentially the strategy followed by Bush in the lead-up to the Iraq war. By upping-the-risk (that is, acting “reckless”), Bush hoped to resolve the issue without war. At least, that’s what I hope he was doing.

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