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Accounting for the 'Tragedy' in the Prisoner's Dilemma

John Tilley
Synthese
Vol. 99, No. 2 (May, 1994), pp. 251-276
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20117899
Page Count: 26
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Accounting for the 'Tragedy' in the Prisoner's Dilemma
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Abstract

The Prisoner's Dilemma (PD) exhibits a 'tragedy' in this sense: if the players are fully informed and rational, they are condemned to a jointly dispreferred outcome. In this essay I address the following question: What feature of the PD's payoff structure is necessary and sufficient to produce the tragedy? In answering it I use the notion of a "trembling-hand equilibrium". In the final section I discuss an implication of my argument, an implication which bears on the persistence of the problem posed by the PD.

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