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.