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The Success of Hyperrational Utility Maximizers in Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma: A Response to Sobel*

  • Robert A. Curtis (a1)

Several recent commentators have suggested that for fully rational agents who find themselves in iterated prisoner's dilemmas of indefinite length, co-operation is the rational strategy. Their argument is that these fully rational agents can be taught, through the co-operative actions of other agents, to bypass the dominant move of noncooperation and co-operate instead. The proponents of the “teaching strategy” seem to have ignored the compelling argument of Jordan Howard Sobel. While the teaching argument may work for agents who are less than purely rational, Sobel has pointed out that hyperrational utility maximizers cannot be taught; they reason deductively, not inductively, as the “teaching argument” requires.

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David Braybrooke , “The Insoluble Problem of the Social Contract”, Dialogue 15 (March 1976), 337

Daniel Farrell , “Hobbes as Moralist”, Philosophical Studies 48 (1985), 257283

Robert Axelrod , “Effective Choice in Prisoner's Dilemma”, Journal of Conflict Resolution 24 (1980a), 325

Robert Axelrod , “The Emergence of Cooperation Among Egoists”, American Political Science Review 75 (1981a), 306318

Robert Axelrod and W. D. Hamilton , “The Evolution of Cooperation”, Science 211 (1981b), 13901396

J. Howard Sobel , “Utility Maximizers in Iterated Prisoner's Dilemmas”, Dialogue 15 (March 1976), 3853

Gregory Kavka , “Deterrence, Utility and Rational Choice”, Theory and Decision 12 (March 1980).

Jordan Howard Sobel , “Interaction Problems for Utility Maximizers”, Canadian Journal of Philosophy 4 (June 1975)

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Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review / Revue canadienne de philosophie
  • ISSN: 0012-2173
  • EISSN: 1759-0949
  • URL: /core/journals/dialogue-canadian-philosophical-review-revue-canadienne-de-philosophie
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