Recent historical research indicates that ritualistic dueling had a rational basis. Basically, under certain social and economic conditions, individuals must fight in order to maintain their personal credit and social standing. We use a repeated two-player sequential game with random matching to show how the institution of dueling could have functioned as a costly but incentive-compatible means by which individuals could demonstrate their good faith dealings by defending their "honor".Fundamentally, the authors show how a Prisoner's Dilemma-type game is transformed to a win-win (overall) game through the use of coercion.
While dueling is technically not a "state-imposed" solution, the practice requires larger institutionalized social constructions. Specifically, legal enforcement against ordinary murder must be knowingly (although implicitly) relaxed.
Also, dueling is viable (in a game-theoretic sense) only in fairly restrictive circumstances. Outside the parameters the authors describe, other solutions are more effective and less costly.
(via Bruce Schneier)