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A Reflection On The Prisoner 's Dilemma Essay

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We exist surrounded by others in nearly every aspect of our lives. It therefore seems reasonable that we act cooperatively, with a sense of care and concern for others. The prisoner’s dilemma game reveals precisely this necessity of acting with regard for others. In the prisoner’s dilemma, players must choose between confession and silence, not knowing how the other player will act. If both confess both receive ten years in prison, if one confesses the confessor is pardoned while the accomplice suffers twenty years in prison, and if both stay silent both receive a two-year sentence (Lecture 8.31.2016). Viewed in the context of international relations regarding, for example, an arms race, in which nations experience the same “black box situation,” facing a gap in knowledge, unable to definitively predict how another nation will act, if the world wishes to survive intact, it clearly behooves us to act in a manner of reciprocal altruism, choosing to cooperate with the expectation the other nation will do the same (Lecture 8.31.2016). No matter our desire for individual autonomy, the prisoner’s dilemma, a microcosm for our daily experiences, reveals that we exist in a complex “network of relationships” in which everyone’s decisions have profound, often unforeseen impacts on one another (Kekes 52). Our identities as both social and human beings necessitate this cooperation because only with it can we face “human vulnerability, scarce resources, the requirements and benefits of
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