# Prisoner’s Dilemma, Philosophy and Religion.

June 5

Via: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.

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3 Comments
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June 5

Via: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.

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3 Comments
leave one →

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(Cartoon Bentham’s hysterical!) (sorry for the long comment; you might want to check my logic…)

If you’re talking about more than two “players,” the outcome probability becomes much more complex, a result which shows why people end up in the first square more often than not.

Let’s say the outcome where everybody agrees to help others is 1/2, the outcome where everybody agrees to take advantage is > 1/2, and the mixed outcome is 0 < x < 1/2 for the helpers and 1/2 < x < 1 for the non-helpers.

The best scenario remains that of the helper during the mixed outcome, since x < 1/2 is "better" than x = 1/2 by a value of | 1/2 – x |. For instance, if you're playing the dilemma with three other people and you always choose to confess, then you'll score 1/3 the standard prison term as an average of all possible scenarios. There's a risk you could end up in prison, but that risk is lower than the risk of not confessing. And, as the number of players approaches infinity, your risk exposure gets closer to zero when you always choose to confess.

So it's very astute of you to compare the prisoners' dilemma to the golden rule: Jesus' maxim does have a kind of "risk-adverse" sentiment to it, as if the least Christians can do is something that makes it easier for them in the long run. But we also have to assume that followers of the golden rule perceive some benefit attached to the helpful stance – something like salvation – which alleviates the potential harm that others would impose on you.

My logic IS wrong…the problem should be set up as

All x where x are Helpers: x = 1/2

All x where x are Non-Helpers: x < 1/2

Some x and Some y where x are Helpers and y are Non-helpers: 0 < x < 1/2, 1/2 < y < 1

0 = best possible outcome, 1 = worst possible outcome

So if you always choose to help, you should expect a middling to best outcome. If you always refuse to help, your best outcome occurs when other refuse as well (that's the point you bring up in persuading others to choose "D").

I just want to make sure everyone knows I didn’t draw this great comic, it’s from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. As for your logic I think the advantage for square A comes from the disproportionate prison sentence in squares B and C, but thanks for the input.