Before discussion, play the Prisoner’s Dilemma game at one of the computerized versions below:
• The Prisoner's Dilemma, Stanford, • Prisoner's Dilemma – Wiki • Repeated Prisoner’s Dilemma Applet
Prisoners' Dilemma. One version is as follows. Two prisoners are accused of a crime. If one confesses and the other does not, the one who confesses will be released immediately and the other will spend 20 years in prison. If neither confesses, each will be held only a few months. If both confess, they will each be jailed 15 years. They cannot communicate with one another. Given that neither prisoner knows whether the other has confessed, it is in the self-interest of each to confess himself. Paradoxically, when each prisoner pursues his self-interest, both end up worse off than they would have been had they acted otherwise.
Discuss the follow questions: Does the Prisoner’s Dilemma accurately depict real life? How? In what ways does it not reflect real life? What does the game tell you about the conditions needed for cooperation to exist?