Essay on Understanding The Prisoner’s Dilemma

Essay on Understanding The Prisoner’s Dilemma

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Such is the complexity of politics that one simple metaphor could not be applied to make all conflicts understandable however the Prisoners dilemma does help explain the nature of some affairs. While it may not be a straightforward application of the metaphor, aspects can be used to offer some explanation of tactics used by either side. The Prisoner’s Dilemma refers to the zero sum game involving cooperating and not cooperating as to get the best possible results for ones interests. A zero sum game as defined by the oxford dictionary is “a game or situation in which whatever is gained by one side is lost by the other”. While the prisoner’s dilemma does provide a metaphor through its exact application for explaining conflict by examples such as international treaties it also explains some of the complexities of politics. One such complexity which can be understood is the nature of cooperation, while some may complain about a governments ability not to cooperate it can be understood that such actions are in fact at risk of damaging there own country through betrayal. Thus the distrust of other countries can then be seen as a lack of distrust breads instability. The use of this metaphor to successfully understand politics is silicified by its ability to also explain inter-government politics, such as the formation of coalitions and how the prisoner’s dilemma can be used to create greater political power. Overall the Prisoners dilemma is a valuable tool in understanding politics, if not by the exact application of it as a model but also its complexities, which are reflected in modern politics.
Merrill Flood and Melvin Dresher discussed the Prisoner’s Dilemma in 1950 as Albert Tucker created the title as part of the Rand Corporatio...


... middle of paper ...


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Robert O. Keohane (1986). Reciprocity in international relations. International Organization, 40, pp 1-27
Stephen M. Walt, The Case for Finite Containment: Analyzing U.S. Grand Strategy, International Security, Vol. 14, No. 1 (Summer, 1989), pp. 5-49


Stevenson, Angus. "zero-sum: definition of zero-sum." Oxford Dictionaries. Last modified March 7,
2008. Accessed April 28, 2014. http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/zero-sum.



Taylor H. Cox, Sharon A. Lobel, and Poppy Lauretta McLeod
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Walter, LaFeber. America, Russia, and the Cold War, 1945-1996. 8th ed. Vol. 8th. New York:
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chapter 1

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