Newcomb's Problem and Prisoners' Dilemma

Steven Brams

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    The relationship between Newcomb's problem, which involves an apparent paradox of prediction, and Prisoners' Dilemma is explicated. After describing a resolution to Newcomb's problem, due to John A. Ferejohn, that renders the two contradictory principles of choice in Newcomb's problem (dominance and expected utility) consistent, I show Prisoners' Dilemma to be a symmetricized version of Newcomb's problem in its payoff structure. The assumption about predictability of choice made for one player in Newcomb's problem, when applied to both players in Prisoners' Dilemma one considered as a leader and the other as a follower offers a resolution to this dilemma that, while consistent with the resolution offered by metagame theory, rationalizes the existence of a metagame solution within a probabilistic, rational-choice framework. The relevance of the mutual-predictability assumption to the solution of arms races, and tragedy-of-commons situations generally, is discussed.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)596-612
    Number of pages17
    JournalJournal of Conflict Resolution
    Volume19
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    StatePublished - 1975

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    prisoner
    arms race
    follower
    Prisoners' dilemma
    leader
    Predictability

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Political Science and International Relations
    • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
    • Sociology and Political Science

    Cite this

    Newcomb's Problem and Prisoners' Dilemma. / Brams, Steven.

    In: Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 19, No. 4, 1975, p. 596-612.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Brams, Steven. / Newcomb's Problem and Prisoners' Dilemma. In: Journal of Conflict Resolution. 1975 ; Vol. 19, No. 4. pp. 596-612.
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