McClennen’s Early Cooperative Solution to the Prisoner’s Dilemma

Southern Journal of Philosophy 29 (3):341-358 (1991)
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This paper reviews six attempts to give cooperative solutions to Prisoners Dilemmas: symmetry (agents are in identical situations, so should choose the same way, so should both choose cooperation because that’s better for each), mechanism (each agent should delegate the decision to a machine which will choose cooperation for them provided the other does likewise), inducement (the agents should make a side bet which pays off only upon both cooperating), resolution (each agent should resolve to cooperate, then act on the resolution), alternative principle (rationality requires not dominance reasoning and so defecting, but constrained maximization or resolution compliance or “sophisticated” choosing, and so cooperation), and preference revision (each agent should acquire conditional preferences to cooperate, then cooperate provided the other agent has acquired similar preferences). It distinguishes one-stage from two-stage games, as well as endogenously available solutions (ones available to agents in the circumstances of the game merely due to the nature of rationality) from solutions requiring exogenous devices. It contrasts Edward McClennen’s endogenous solution, which is some combination of resolution and alternative principle solution, with David Gauthier’s endogenous alternative principle solution. It argues that all have problems, ones best solved by the endogenous preference revision solution defended by Duncan MacIntosh.


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Author's Profile

Duncan MacIntosh
Dalhousie University

References found in this work

Morality and advantage.David P. Gauthier - 1967 - Philosophical Review 76 (4):460-475.
Prisoners, Paradox, and Rationality.Lawrence H. Davis - 1977 - American Philosophical Quarterly 14 (4):319 - 327.

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