Kantian Ethics and the Prisoners' Dilemma
Mark D. White
CUNY College of Staten Island
April 2, 2008
Eastern Economic Journal, 2009
The prisoners' dilemma game stands as a seminal case of the conflict between individual and collective rationality. Some scholars have suggested that Kantian duty-based ethics can prevent the suboptimal outcomes associated with the game. I argue that this claim is too strong, because Kant's moral theory does not entail specific duties requiring cooperation in prisoners' dilemma games. I support this argument in terms of Kant's categorical imperative, and also with reference to his distinction between perfect and imperfect duties.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 10
Keywords: prisoners' dilemma, game theory, ethics, Immanuel Kant
JEL Classification: A13, C71Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: September 29, 2008
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