Pure and Utilitarian Prisoner's Dilemmas

Economics and Philosophy 11 (2):333-343 (1995)
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Abstract

The prisoner 's dilemma game has acquired large literatures in several disciplines. It is surprising, therefore, that a good definition of the game is hard to find. Typically an author relates a story about captured criminals or military rivals, provides a particular payoff matrix and asserts that the PD is characterized, or illustrated, by that matrix. In the few cases in which characterizing conditions are given, the conditions, and the motivations for them, do not always agree with each other or with the paradigm examples elsewhere. In this paper we describe several varieties of PD's. In particular, we suggest there are two distinctions among PD's with philosophical significance, the pure/impure and the utilitarian/nonutilitarian distinctions. In the first section, we explain and characterize the two distinctions. In the second, we discuss an issue of moral philosophy that illustrates the significance of the former.

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Steve Kuhn
Georgetown University

References found in this work

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The Republic. Plato & Benjamin Jowett - 1894 - Arlington Heights, Ill.: Courier Dover Publications. Edited by Cynthia Johnson, Holly Davidson Lewis & Benjamin Jowett.
Hobbesian Moral and Political Theory.Gregory S. Kavka - 1986 - Princeton University Press.
The Republic. Plato & Sir Henry Desmond Pritchard Lee - 2003 - Arlington Heights, Ill.: Penguin Books. Edited by Henry Desmond Pritchard Lee.

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