Prisoners Dilemma Essay Research Paper THE PRISONER

Prisoners Dilemma Essay, Research Paper


(I). In the prisoner s dilemma two people have been arrested, the one inmate is called Smith. In this situation the authorities are not interested in the truth but only want to convict someone. An interrogator lays out the consequences for Smith. If Smith does not confess but the other guy confesses against Smith, they will release him and Smith will be put away for ten years. If Smith confesses and the other guy does not Smith will be free. If both men confess, each will receive five years. Still, if neither of the men confesses, there will not be enough evidence to convict either one of them. Each man will be held for one year, and then let go.

Smith and the other man are being offered the same deal. One might assume that each man would confess against each other. In this case both men would receive five years and not obtain the minimum possible time spent in jail. If each man looked out for him self both will end up worse off than if they had acted in a more benevolent manner. This is what makes the prisoner s dilemma such a paradoxical situation. Both men will be better of if they look out for each other or rather not look out for themselves.

This is a situation that can be used in every day living.. Any time there are peoples’ interests that are affected not only by what they do but what other people do, a dilemma may occur. In some situations everyone will end up worse off if they individually pursue their own interests than if they simultaneously do what it not in their own individual interests.

(II). If I myself was in the prisoner s dilemma, and my goal is to spend as little time in jail, I would act in an egotistic manner to maximize my freedom. My reasoning, as an egoist, would be to rat out the other guy hoping that he will remain silent. This would create the most ideal situation for myself. I would spend no time in jail and the other guy s situation is not my concern. This is what makes me an egoist, someone who tries to do the best for themselves. This idea of egotism is not necessarily wrong but rather a way of thinking to create the best outcome for yourself.

(III). Rachel, in his essay, points out a catch in this line of reasoning. The catch is that if I act in a way to create the best outcome for myself, one would have to assume the other inmate would have the same reasoning. He may also be an egoist and might rat me out in hopes that I would take all the blame and let him get off with his maximum freedom. This shows that in reality that if we both act in an egotistic manner that it is not in our best interest to confess and implicate each other. By doing so we would both receive five years, where only one year each is possible.

(IV). The situation with the prisoner s dilemma affects many different aspects of life. Prisoner dilemma-type situations occur whenever two conditions are present. 1. A situation where peoples’ interests are affected not only by what they do but what other people do as well. 2. The situation must have negative consequences if the individual pursues their own interests than if they simultaneously do what is not in their own interests.

The dilemma may occur whenever two people live together or closely involved with one another. An example of this is true in every marriage. If each partner acts as an egoist, only looking out for their own good, the marriage would suffer. Each partner would cause more damage by only looking out for their own interests.

(V). A more realistic example of a prisoner s dilemma-type situation could happen just by finding someone s wallet. If an individual picks up a wallet that was lying on the ground in a public park, he might think to himself that he just ran into some good luck and the money inside is now his. The prisoner s dilemma can be used as a parallel to this situation.

Even still it would be in the best interest of the finder of the wallet to attempt to return the money and wallet instead of pocketing the money. One must think of it from the other guy s point of view. Statistically the chance of loosing your wallet is very high and every person, egoist or not, may lose their wallet someday. In the event that your wallet is lost it would be in your best interest to get it back. Your thoughts would be in hopes that the finder would be a benevolent person, and not an egoist like you may possibly be.

In this particular example it would be much easier to pocket the money without anyone knowing and no direct consequences. Looking out for yourself, the best situation would be that every one else in the world would be benevolent people, and you yourself could simply take advantage of them. Another word for this could be, “free rider.” The next best thing is to be benevolent yourself along with everyone else. This would ensure kind treatment at all times and you would not have to worry about other people s interests. The bad side of this situation is when you are benevolent but around you are egoist waiting to take advantage of you.

If in fact you were an egoist when you found the wallet, but all other people are egoist too, then this would be a bad situation. You would try to protect your own interest but would get no help from any other people. If for example you dropped your wallet that contained one hundred dollars. In a complete egoist society you would have to assume that your money was now in the hands of someone else s. Even if the next week you found a wallet containing two hundred dollars, the situation is still bad for the individual that lost the wallet. By acting in this way every one loses and both parties would be better off if they acted not in their own individual self-interest.


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