Tit for Tat and Beyond: The Legendary Work of Anatol Rapoport


This article pays tribute to Anatol Rapoport. Rapoport’s contributions spanned scientific disciplines and included the application of mathematical models to biology and the social sciences, alongside metatheoretical work bridging semantics, ethics, and philosophy. Known for formulating the “Tit for Tat” strategy, his approach to game theory reflected a nuanced understanding of knowledge, wisdom, and ethics; the differences, for example, between modeling behavior—what works as an algorithm in a structured game—and solving complex human social interactions. While developing a science of human conflict, Rapoport focused on simple ideas to promote cooperation; his ultimate goal was to foster world peace. A career overview alongside testimonials by scholars and family provide a glimpse of Anatol Rapoport, the scientist and the person. The legacy and thinking of Anatol Rapoport continue to resonate and reverberate today whenever we conduct rigorous scholarship toward transforming conflict into peaceful harmony, whether among people or nations.

Keywords: Prisoner’s Dilemma, Tit for Tat, conflict, cooperation, peace, general systems theory, semantics, ethics




Published on
17 Dec 2019
Peer Reviewed