Anatol Rapoport is dead

by John Quiggin on February 4, 2007

Anatol Rapoport has died at the age of 95. Among many contributions, perhaps his most widely-known was the Tit-for-Tat rule for repeated games of the Prisoner’s Dilemma, embodied in a four-line program Rapaport successfully entered in a contest run by Robert Axelrod. Rapoport’s program co-operates inititially, and thereafter matches the other player’s last action, defecting in response to a defection, and returning to co-operation if the other player does so. There’s more here from Tom Slee.

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Darwiniana » Do Darwinists have a guilty conscience?
02.05.07 at 8:12 pm



Hasan Jafri 02.04.07 at 5:26 am

Anatol Rapoport was a giant among men, and peace activists everywhere will miss him. His book “Strategy and Conscience” is required reading in an age when intelligent, thinking people are once again being pulled down militarism’s slippery slope by stupid ideas disguised as reason. If one-tenth of mathematicians today applied their works to fighting actively against war and promoting peace, as Rapoport did, dunderhead war-mongering would be dead and buried.


John Emerson 02.04.07 at 6:40 am

Anatol Rapoport…..once promulgated a list of rules for how to write a successful critical commentary on an opponent’s work. First, he said, you must attempt to re-express your opponent’s position so clearly, vividly and fairly that your opponent says “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.” Then, you should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement), and third, you should mention anything you have learned from your opponent. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

Where’s the fun in that?


dearieme 02.04.07 at 8:51 am

Tit for tat. Years ago I read an English historian on the British civil wars of the 17th century. He complained that the Scots’ attitude to loyalty was conditional: they would be loyal to their King only while he was loyal to them.


John Landon 02.05.07 at 8:15 pm

With all due respect for an insight in context (Rand corporation does ethics), this material on the Prisoner’s Dilemma (which enters in the Dawkins gene idiocy) in relation to Darwinian attempts to bludgeon religion into positivistic non-existence by sacrificing altruism on the altar of (yes, disguised, folks) economic ideology is a sorry excuse for real evolutionary theory.
I think the Prisoner’s Dilemma must appeal to Darwinists because they have a guilty conscience, of sorts, like Darwin’s mutterings about murder. Jailbirds at heart.

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